Scientists and public outreach: Participation, motivations, and impediments

Elisabeth Andrews, Alex Weaver, Daniel Hanley, Jeffrey Shamatha, Ginger Melton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

124 Scopus citations


Public funding agencies are increasingly requiring βroader impact" components in research grants. Concurrently, national educational leaders are calling for scientists to partner with educators to reform science education. Through the use of survey and interview data, our study examined the participation of researchers, faculty members, and graduate students from federal research laboratories and a Research I university, who were involved in K-12 and public outreach activities. W e found that scientists were often recruited into K-12 outreach activities by local departmental liaisons, colleagues, or professors. Scientists most frequently gave presentations, tutored, and organized or judged science fairs. Outreach participation varied by career stage, job type, and gender. The strongest motivating factors were a desire to contribute and enjoying their outreach experiences. For graduate students and researchers, a third motivating factor was the chance to improve their teaching and communication skills. Scientists of all types, however, viewed outreach as a form of volunteer work that was auxiliary to their other responsibilities. Time constraints due to other, higher priorities, the lower value placed on outreach by departments, and a lack of detailed information about outreach opportunities were significant barriers to participation. Even so, only a few scientists viewed their outreach experiences negatively, mostly due to classroom management, logistical, or organizational problems, or a lack of outreach skills.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)281-293
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Geoscience Education
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 2005

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • General Earth and Planetary Sciences


Dive into the research topics of 'Scientists and public outreach: Participation, motivations, and impediments'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this