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Education Research and Building Strategic E/PO

Thursday, October 29, 2009
Buxner (University of Arizona)

Structured Education and Public Outreach (E/PO) plays an essential role for communicating information to the public about scientific discoveries as well as how science is done. Effective E/PO is important for the continued support of scientific research as well as contribution to the education and inspiration of those who fund this research. Traditional institutional E/PO often involves disparate activities such as teacher workshops, curriculum development, and public talks based on current grant requirements and scientists who are willing to volunteer their time. Assessing the impact of E/PO usually involves collecting demographic information and number of individuals who attend programs but lacks more informative outcome measures.

Building a strategic E/PO plan for an institution is important to both the long-term vision of the institution as well providing a continued and consistent service to the community. Careful evaluation and assessment of outcomes is essential to understanding the impact of programs as well the ongoing needs of the community an institution serves. I will discuss tools for building a strategic E/PO plan that addresses the concerns of multiple stakeholders. I will also present findings from an in-depth study of the impact of research experiences for teachers on their understandings of science and teaching as an example of how educational research can assist and inform E/PO.

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