21ST Century Scientists Working Group

November 17th 2015

Recap: Journal Club- Knowledge is Power

“Knowledge Is Power”: A Mixed-Methods Study Exploring Adult Audience Preferences for Engagement and Learning Formats Over 3 Years of a Health Science Festival


One-way communication from scientists to the public is often scorned in favor of a two-way communication dialogue, however, there has been little research aimed at finding what people actually prefer. Fogg-Rogers et al. (2015) surveyed a large science festival in New Zealand over the course of three years in order to determine public preferences for science engagement formats. The annual Brain Day Auckland festival combines hands-on labs, children’s activities, music, art, community group expos and scientist talks (both lectures and dialogue discussions) to communicate information on brain health and current neuroscience research. Over the three-year study period 89% of participants attended the lectures, 77% stated the lectures were their main reason for attending, and 84% found the lectures useful. The lecture was consistently ranked number 1 for attendance and usefulness every year. This result was consistent across age, gender, ethnicity, and education level. While the lecture format was preferred by the vast majority of participants, it remains to be seen whether stand-alone lectures would be as attractive outside of the science festival atmosphere.

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