What do we know?
- The emerging consensus among researchers and professionals is that participation in informal science learning opportunities is more impactful when participants have the opportunity to actively engage in hands-on activities and demonstrations.
- Science festivals pose unique opportunities for science communication, offering attendees multiple ways to engage with science and scientists. Increasingly, science festivals and other public science events are viewed as opportunities for engaged science, a concept that moves away from traditional top-down, pre-packaged science communication.
- During a three-year study of health science festival attendees’ preferences for engagement, researchers explored preferences for lectures, discussions, community expos, lab experiments and day outs, as well as perceived usefulness of each engagement method. Results indicate that lectures were ranked as the main attraction, most highly attended, and most useful format regardless of time, age-group, or gender.
- Researchers also identified five additional themes in motivations for attending Brain Day Auckland. Respondents reported they were: interested in learning, perceived knowledge as power, valued research and expert opinion, sought career and professional development, and hoped to engage in curiosity.
- Although research shows that hands-on engagement and demonstrations are important strategies for engagement, findings from this study suggest that less engaging forms of content delivery continue to be appropriate for some types of events. This underscores the importance of understanding your attendees, their motivations for attending, and using this information to engage audiences in the formats most preferred.
How do we know?
Repeated cross-sectional survey collected across three years (n=661) of a health science festival, included quantitative measures and open-ended items that asked respondents to explain their responses in greater detail.
Where do we go to learn more?
Laura Fogg-Rogers, Jacquie L. Bay, Hannah Burgess, & Suzanne C. Purdy. “Knowledge is Power: A Mixed-Methods Study Exploring Adult Audience Preferences for Engagement and Learning Formats Over 3 Years of a Health Science Festival. Science Communication, 37(4):419-451.