School of Communication Grad Student is Finalist for M4 Competition

Mike Mitchell is one of two graduate students from Florida State University School of Communication selected as a finalist in the inaugural Master’s in Four Competition (M4) taking place on April 4, 2019, in the FSU Student Life Building Auditorium.

Hosted by The Graduate School at Florida State University, the M4 is a competition where students have only four minutes to present their research in four PowerPoint slides. Awards will be given to first, second, and “people’s choice” winners.

Mitchell works on accelerating the adoption of new technologies with a focus on electric vehicles (EVs). “The transportation sector is the largest emitter of CO2 in the U.S., so one of the main ways we can help fight climate change is by transitioning to zero-emission EVs,” Mitchell explains. “The goal of my research is to speed up this process by understanding how and why people switch to EVs, and then using this to create more effective messages and campaigns to encourage EV adoption. I primarily utilize the Diffusion of Innovations model to explain and understand adoption behavior, and various entertainment-education principles for message and campaign design.

“As the first step in this process, I conducted a preliminary study to characterize the decision making process of people who had already adopted EVs, looking specifically for barriers to adoption, and identifiable decision-making points that could be targeted by information campaigns. This study was recently accepted at the ICA annual conference and is under review at Energy Research and Social Science. One of the main findings from this was that many adopters had ‘range anxiety’- the fear of running out of battery charge and being stranded- but were able to get over it pretty easily by simply experiencing an EV.

“However, experiencing an EV can be difficult without knowing an owner or actually buying a car, which led me to explore innovative ways to let people experience this range anxiety without actually having an EV.  Under Dr. Wendorf Muhamad’s guidance I’ve been developing a board game which simulates EV ownership by having players ‘drive’ around a representation of Tallahassee, completing various tasks designed to show how much can be done with an EV before needing to recharge. The goal is to reduce the range anxiety barrier and make participants more likely to consider adopting an EV in the future. Serious games are an ideal way to do this because they combine experiential learning and entertainment-education, meaning that players are actually doing something and are having fun, making them more likely to retain the message. This is my thesis project, and I hope to begin data collection this summer ahead of a planned Fall 2019 graduation. I would really like to see this game be commercialized and turned into a tool that could be used by advocacy organizations in EV education campaigns.”

Mitchell pursues an M.S. in Public Interest Media and Communication part-time as he works full-time in FSU’s Office of Proposal Development doing grant consulting for faculty members. Following graduation, he’s already discussed working with Sustainable Tallahassee to use the game locally; otherwise, his immediate plans are to “simply go back to work and enjoy focusing on one thing for a change!” Mitchell plans on pursuing a Ph.D. in Science and Technology Policy within the next year or two to further the work he’s done in his master’s program.