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Open Access Impact arising from sustained public engagement: A measured increase in learning outcomes

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This article details the impact arising from a sustained public-engagement activity with sixth-form students (16- to 17-year-olds) across two further education colleges during 2012/13. Measuring the impact of public engagement is notoriously difficult. As such, the engagement programme followed closely the recommendations of the National Co-ordinating Centre for Public Engagement (NCCPE) and their guidance for assessing Research Excellence Framework 2014 (REF2014) impact arising from public engagement with research. The programme resulted in multiple impacts as defined by REF2014 under 'Impacts on society, culture and creativity'. Specifically: the beneficiaries' interest in science was stimulated; the beneficiaries' engagement in science was improved; their sciencerelated education was enhanced; the outreach programme made the participants excited about the science topics covered; the beneficiaries' awareness and understanding was improved by engaging them with the research; there was tentative evidence of an improvement in AS-level grades; there was indirect evidence of an improvement in student retention. These impacts were evidenced by the user feedback from the sixth-form students collected from 50 questionnaires (split 16 and 34 across the two further education colleges), as well as testimonies from both the teachers and individual participants. This article will be of interest to anyone looking at how to evidence that public engagement has produced impact, in particular with regards to impact arising from a sustained public-engagement activity.
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Keywords: IMPACT; PUBLIC ENGAGEMENT; REF; REF2014; REF2021; SCIENCE COMMUNICATION

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 July 2018

More about this publication?
  • Engagement with research goes further than participation in it. Engaged individuals and communities initiate research, advise, challenge or collaborate with researchers. Their involvement is always active and they have a crucial influence on the conduct of the research.

    Research for All is a peer-reviewed journal focusing on research that involves universities and communities, services or industries working together. Contributors and readers are from both inside and outside of higher education. They include researchers, policymakers, managers, practitioners, community-based organizations, schools, businesses and the intermediaries who bring these people together. The journal highlights the potential in active public engagement for robust academic study, for the development of involved communities, and for the impact of research. It explores engagement with different groups and their cultures, and features theoretical and empirical analysis alongside authoritative commentary to explore a range of themes that are key to engaged research including the development of reciprocal relationships, sector-specific communication and participatory action research. The journal is co-sponsored by the UCL Institute of Education and the National Co-ordinating Centre for Public Engagement.

    The journal welcomes relevant articles. See the publication homepage for details, or contact [email protected]

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