Testimonials and Evaluation
Attendees at a AAAS Communicating Science workshop practice effective public engagement strategies. | Stephen Waldron/AAAS
AAAS has provided more than 130 Communicating Science workshops for over 4,500 scientist and engineer attendees at universities, science society meetings, and government agency labs worldwide as of April 2017.
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"An excellent workshop in many ways, and very worthwhile. Science isn’t like making pizzas where past experience ensures predictable output. Public understanding of research and the work of scientists is seriously jeopardized when communication focuses on the wrong information. The public at large cares a lot less about the minutiae of scientific investigation than tangible and credible benefits. This workshop helped re-orient my thinking about communicating in practical ways. I applied the lessons within days of the workshop." Steve Whitney, FDA Office of Science and Engineering Laboratories, April 2017
“I appreciated the concrete strategies and the frequent opportunities to develop my own scientific communication message. I look forward to applying what I learned in your workshop during my fellowship at FDA.” Ruth J. Geller, FDA Office of Women’s Health, August 2016
We asked workshop participants: “What’s the most valuable idea or skill you took away from the workshop?”
“Accepting the notion that breaking down complex concepts from my discipline into very simplified explanations for the understanding of the public does not 'dumb down' the work, but in fact gives it greater value, as it can reach more people.” Florida Atlantic University, August 2015
“You really need to understand WHY you're setting a goal not just WHAT you're going to do.” University of Massachusetts, Amherst, June 2015
“I have a new appreciation for the importance of tailoring my message to each specific audience, and meeting people where they already are.” Pennsylvania State University, May 2015
“The idea of how important it is to change your message based on your audience. It also reaffirmed my opinion that the Internet is a powerful tool to communicate your science to both scientists and a broader audience. It opened my eyes to more opportunities to communicate my science to others.” University of Texas, Houston Medical Center, April 2015
“That communication to the public…deserves better attention than I paid in the past.” Michigan State University, February 2015
“I have already been actively communicating with the public... For me, the main benefit of the course was to think about science communication in a structured way, to be reminded of some things that I may have known but have given insufficient attention to, and to hear the perspectives of other workshop participants.” Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, January 2015
Montgomery, Nikki. “Workshop Equips Scientists, Engineers to Communicate Technology,” United States Army. 16 September 2015.
Callahan, Achsah. “COEIT and CNMS Host AAAS ’Communicating Science‘Faculty Workshop,” UMBC Insights, University of Maryland, Baltimore County. 13 April 2015.
Workshops have also been featured in The Chronicle for Higher Education and Science.
The AAAS Communicating Science program works closely with social scientists whose research addresses science communication and public engagement with science, to ensure the program uses empirical evidence to inform best practices and workshop content. Researchers and a professional evaluator have also assisted in development of an evaluation program that measures progress toward goals identified by research.
Workshop goals include increasing scientists’ communication skills and confidence in their ability to engage with the public. The Communicating Science program also seeks to increase scientists’ confidence in communication effectiveness of specific methods, including in-person interactions, social media, and news media.
Evaluation results show an increase in workshop participants’ self-reported communication skills and confidence as a result of the workshop. Participants indicated that they could:
- Describe scientific findings in ways that make them relevant to specific people
- Get people excited about science
- Frame research implications so they resonate with people's values
- Hear what others think about scientific issues
Regarding specific science communication skills, workshop participants reported an increased ability to:
- Identify a few main points/messages to convey
- Articulate a goal for communication
- Identify relevance of message to an audience
- Be concise and jargon-free
Additional benefits of the workshops include fostering a community for public engagement within an institution.