Outreach & Public Engagement
- British Antarctic Survey, British Antarctic Survey
- East of England
- Date first submitted:
- 23 Mar 2011
- Date last modified:
- 24 Mar 2011
- Personal effectiveness
- Research project skills
- Knowledge exchange
- Career development
- Postgraduate researchers
Rationale, aims and outcomes
What is the rationale for doing this?
How does it fit with institutional strategy?
What are the main features of the provision?
What are the aims and expected outcomes?
As a Research Institute, BAS receives lots of requests to go along to schools, universities and businesses to give talks, presentations or demonstrations on the work that we do. This provides our students with the opportunity to develop and build their presentation and public engagement skills at all levels. However, some students are inexperienced at public speaking and can be overwhelmed at just the very thought of standing in front of an audience. Where students need to gain confidence, there is the opportunity for them to be mentored and to accompany more experienced staff in the first instance.
We aim to encourage our students to develop their public engagement skills in line with their experience. Over the period of their studentship, their ability and confidence should grow substantially, so by the time they have completed their PhD, they have the self-assurance and self-belief to speak and engage in science conferences, seminars, etc.
Are there any pre-requisites for engagement, e.g. levels of skill, years of experience, essential pre-activities?
How many participate in each 'activity'?
Each student will have differing levels of ability, so each will develop in their own time and at their own pace. Usually 1-2 students will go along to an event.
Evaluation: benefits, challenges and next steps
How do you monitor effectiveness?
Who do you seek feedback from?
Do you have benchmarks?
The benefits that students get from public engagement is developing their skills at a pace that suits them, and with people they know, rather than being made just to attend several formal presentation skills courses. This works particuarly well with those less confident at public speaking, but also hones the skills of those who are. BAS students know that it's a unique research centre, and outreach is an opportunity they might not have if based elsewhere.
The challenge is trying to get students to sign up for outreach as it often falls outside their comfort zone of the regular format of attending a course and takes them away from their research. However, once they've spoken to other students who have been to a few events, they can usually be persuaded!
We would like to see all of our students go along to at least two events each year and to keep a record of their experiences, good or bad, so that we can improve this provision where necessary.