Increasingly it is becoming a requirement for scientists to include an outreach or communication component into their research proposals. However such integration is still faulty. It is important to inform scientists and communicators about how to improve the communication process and how to incorporate the audience perspective in communication endeavors. The purpose of this research was to evaluate the impact of a science communication endeavor— the Explore Research exhibit at the Florida Museum of Natural History. This exhibit features research conducted by scientists at the University of Florida and brings together the main actors in the science communication process: scientists, communicators and the public. The evaluation of this exhibit sheds light on how the communication occurs from the perspective of each group of actors. Results from this study provide information to improve the process. First, this study elaborates a set of recommendations for the Explore Research exhibit and second, develops a proposal to feature a specific research project applying the recommendations made for this study. Results from this study improve upcoming efforts not only for the Panama Canal Project, but also for other research groups at the University of Florida. By including the audience’s perspective into the proposed exhibit (front-end and formative evaluation), this project tackled a constant call in science communication literature: incorporate the audience needs and interests. Twenty scientists, 10 communicators and 40 museum visitors participated in the study via email surveys and short interviews at the exhibit. Results indicate that the exhibit is well received by museum visitors and that the goals set for the exhibit are accomplished. Museum visitors walked away from the exhibit with a basic awareness of the research conducted at the University of Florida and the implications of that research. In addition, researchers and communicators were satisfied with their participation, but there are still opportunities for improvement in the interaction between these two groups. Recommendations include offering better feedback to researchers before and after their participation, promoting the exhibit in STEM departments to motivate more researchers to participate and technical suggestions for each of the exhibit components.

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Public Communication of Science and Technology

 

Informing practice from research
A museum exhibit evaluation

Luz Oviedo   Instituto Alexander Von Humboldt, Colombia

Betty Dunckel   University of Florida, United States

Dale Johnson   University of Florida, United States

Bruce MacFadden   University of Florida, United States

Debbie Treise   University of Florida, United States

Increasingly it is becoming a requirement for scientists to include an outreach or communication component into their research proposals. However such integration is still faulty. It is important to inform scientists and communicators about how to improve the communication process and how to incorporate the audience perspective in communication endeavors. The purpose of this research was to evaluate the impact of a science communication endeavor— the Explore Research exhibit at the Florida Museum of Natural History. This exhibit features research conducted by scientists at the University of Florida and brings together the main actors in the science communication process: scientists, communicators and the public. The evaluation of this exhibit sheds light on how the communication occurs from the perspective of each group of actors. Results from this study provide information to improve the process. First, this study elaborates a set of recommendations for the Explore Research exhibit and second, develops a proposal to feature a specific research project applying the recommendations made for this study. Results from this study improve upcoming efforts not only for the Panama Canal Project, but also for other research groups at the University of Florida. By including the audience’s perspective into the proposed exhibit (front-end and formative evaluation), this project tackled a constant call in science communication literature: incorporate the audience needs and interests. Twenty scientists, 10 communicators and 40 museum visitors participated in the study via email surveys and short interviews at the exhibit. Results indicate that the exhibit is well received by museum visitors and that the goals set for the exhibit are accomplished. Museum visitors walked away from the exhibit with a basic awareness of the research conducted at the University of Florida and the implications of that research. In addition, researchers and communicators were satisfied with their participation, but there are still opportunities for improvement in the interaction between these two groups. Recommendations include offering better feedback to researchers before and after their participation, promoting the exhibit in STEM departments to motivate more researchers to participate and technical suggestions for each of the exhibit components.

A copy of the full paper has not yet been submitted.

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