Participation in science outreach and its impacts on programme presenters
This research investigates whether skills development, attitudes towards science, interest in lifelong learning about science, and the likelihood of future participation in science education and careers, are impacted by participation as a science outreach presenter. Local presenters are the heart of the operation team of Science Caravan, the most extensive science outreach programme in Thailand run by the National Science Museum (NSM). This programme involves students from local high schools or universities who volunteer to assist as presenters. About 8,000 presenters have helped visitors to be actively involved in science activities. However, little is known about the impact of presenting. This study employed mixed methods; data were collected in two phases. Phase one involved three questionnaires. Two questionnaires were administered to current presenters (N = 690), pre-presenting survey (before training) and post-presenting survey at 12 locations of the Science Caravan tour between November 2017 and February 2018. Also, during the Science Caravan tour, 64 current presenters were observed to assess the improvement of science communication skills over their four days of presenting. An alumni survey was used to collect data from alumni presenters who had participated in the programme. This questionnaire was administered online from October 2017 to March 2018, and 726 alumni presenters responded. Phase two of data collection was performed a month after finishing at each location. This phase involved telephone follow-up interviews with 19 current presenters and 19 alumni presenters. Questionnaires, observations and interview data were analysed using a combination of descriptive statistics, non-parametric and parametric statistics, and thematic content analysis.There was significant impact of presenting on the students improved self-confidence and four essential skills: communication, problem-solving, critical thinking and interpersonal skills. Through a combination of training and immersive experience, presenters perceived substantial acquisition of science communication skills and understood some key elements of effective science communication. Direct observations over four days of presenting confirmed improved science communication skills. The results demonstrate that while these presenters already possessed positive attitudes towards science, the brief experience of being Science Caravan presenters enhanced presenters’ science attitudes in all scales –with more positive attitudes in Self-concept in science, Value of science to society and Future participation in science, decreased Anxiety about science presenting. Moreover, presenting resulted in increased reported interest in life-long learning activities regarding science. This increase in life-long learning activities is related to students’ attitude and self-efficacy in science. The impact on academic and career plans was directly linked to participants’ experience during their tenure in the programme. The results indicate that pre-existing participants’ interest in science-related aspirations was strengthened. The experience from the programme influenced presenters’ decisions about careers in different ways, such as inspiring aspiration, confirming interest in STEM, providing new information for possible STEM careers, and developing an appreciation of teaching. Self-concept, self-efficacy, education level, and interest in science-related activities are significant predictors of intentions of future participation in science. Volunteer participation as a presenter in even short-duration events such as Science Caravan appears to be an effective model to offer skills development, foster a positive attitude towards science, increase interest in life-long learning activities and inspire young people to future involvement in science study or science-related careers.
Advisor: Longnecker, Nancy; Spronken-Smith, Rachel
Degree Name: Doctor of Philosophy
Degree Discipline: Centre for Science Communication
Publisher: University of Otago
Keywords: presenter; skill; Thailand; volunteer; attitude towards science; science presenting; science communication; lifelong learning; communication skills; outreach program; science outreach; Self-concept; self-efficacy; science career; science-related careers; science communication skills; problem-solving; critical thinking; self-confidence
Research Type: Thesis