Research & Evaluation

Sharing Science Workshops 2009 Summative Evaluation

Report date: June, 2010

 

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General Description: 

The Museum of Science partnered with the Center for High-rate Nanomanufacturing to create a sequence of professional development experiences in science communication and hands-on learning for graduate students and post-docs. The Sharing Science Workshops were intended to help graduate students who work with the CHN program to improve their abilities to present their research to a variety of scientific and nonscientific audiences. The sequence included a half-day "Sharing Science" workshop, a half-day guided "Practicum" with museum visitors, and optional participation in NanoDays events at MOS. The UMass Donahue Institute undertook an evaluation of the first two programs to better understand their impact.

Major Findings: 

From the report's conclusion: "Participants had very favorable impressions of the workshops, with 98% rating the half-day workshop as “very useful” or “extremely useful”, and all but one participant at the practicum day agreeing or strongly agreeing that they would encourage other graduate students to complete the Sharing Science Workshops. Moreover, 80% or more agreed or strongly agreed that, as a result of the workshops, improving their science communication skills became a greater priority, they have a better understanding of the purposes of education and outreach, they feel more confident about engaging people with science demonstrations, they're more motivated to try getting involved in doing some education and outreach, and they feel better equipped to explain their research to nonscientists and to children.

Open-ended questions revealed specific program strengths as well as concrete suggestions for improving future versions of these workshops. In light of strong positive ratings from participants in the practicum day, it is important to note that far fewer students participated in it because it was optional and offered on a Sunday.

By strengthening graduate students' science communication skills, the workshops also supported broader goals of CHN's education and outreach activities, which include increasing interaction among faculty and students from the three participating institutions, increasing the public's awareness of the importance of science and technology, and preparing students for careers in nanotechnology research and manufacturing."

Type of product(s) studied: 

  • Professional development, meetings, workshops

Method(s) of data collection: 

  • interviews
  • surveys

Author(s): 

UMass Donahue Institute Research and Evaluation Group

Associated product(s): 

 

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