I have four questions for anyone engaged in (or interested in) science outreach activities — and you can define that term as broadly as you like. If you can answer any, or all, of these questions, I’d be very grateful. Just plug your answers into the comments section below. I’m hoping to use your answers to better organize my own thoughts on issues related to assessing the outcomes of outreach activities.
For Those Engaged in Outreach
- If you are part of a science outreach project, what are the goals of the project? Please be as specific as possible.
- What sort of questions are you asking (or could you ask) to help determine whether you are meeting those goals?
- What, if anything, are you doing to assess progress toward those goals?
- Which research disciplines have the requisite skillsets/interests to answer these questions?
Ultimately, I’d like to do two things. First, I’d like to identify existing bodies of research that address some of these issues and see how/if we can help incorporate relevant findings into the development of future outreach efforts. Second, I’d like to facilitate connections between researchers and those conducting outreach to develop and implement methodologies for collecting and assessing data on which outreach methods are most effective at accomplishing specific outreach goals — as I discussed in an earlier post.
I’m asking these questions because moving from the general idea of “quantifying outreach outcomes” to actual, specific actions requires more information. I’ve reached out to folks in several fields already, and they’ve all told me the same thing: “What is it specifically you want to know?” My questions were too broad. I’m hoping you can help me come up with some of those specific questions. (And, in some cases, I think the answers are already out there.)