PCST Network

Public Communication of Science and Technology


Using Surveys in Science Communication Evaluation
A Very Brief Introduction to the State of the Art

Eric Jensen  

Are you feeling uncertain about how to set up a survey-based evaluation of science communication events, exhibitions or activities, or looking to explore your options? Surveys can be a great tool for learning about science communication audience expectations, quality of experience and impact. However, accurate measurement of audience outcomes requires following principles of survey research methodology that have been developed over decades of research in the social sciences. This workshop presents some of the highlights from this existing body of knowledge, identifying the strengths and weaknesses of different options. This event includes presentations some 'top tips' on how to design good questionnaires and observation-based evaluations, as well as time for discussion to address the specific challenges that attendees are facing. This practical workshop offers a very brief introduction to good practice in questionnaire design for science communication evaluation. This includes how to evaluate existing survey questions and develop new ones for quantitative evaluations. The workshop will be delivered by Dr Eric Jensen (Associate Professor, Department of Sociology, University of Warwick), a social scientist specializing in impact evaluation of science communication in a variety of settings, including science festivals, science centers, natural history museums, zoos and aquariums. He has numerous publications in journals such as Public Understanding of Science and Conservation Biology. His forthcoming books include 'Doing Real Research' (SAGE, 2016) and 'Making the Most of Public Engagement Events and Festivals' (Cambridge University Press, 2016). Jensen's PhD is in Sociology from the University of Cambridge (UK). He teaches quantitative, qualitative and mixed methods social research. He has led several groundbreaking projects on the value of new social research technologies for evaluating cultural and informal learning experiences, funded by the National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts (Nesta), the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) and the European Commission (Horizon2020).

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