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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The challenge of assessing effective science communication training Bedolla López, Diana


During the past few decades, an increasing number of science communication training events have been on offer. The focus of these events is mainly on developing technical, journalistic-type skills in ‘getting the message across.’ This training often relies on the deficit model, which assumes that the public is undereducated. This assumption is problematic because it ignores that the different targeted audiences have different types and levels of knowledge and ways of interpreting information that depend on values, beliefs, and concerns. A review of the literature suggests an assessment of current practices could motivate reflection among science communication trainers on the utility of the deficit model. To date, no tool is available that assesses the effectiveness of science communication training. This study aims to address this gap by developing a framework and a tool to assess the effectiveness of science communication training. This study employs community-based participatory action research in collaboration with the Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry (SETAC). Data were collected using a review of training in science communication, surveys, informal conversations, and participant observations. The framework developed in this thesis conceptualizes science communication training assessment using a modified Kirkpatrick model, the Theory of Planned Behavior, and an authentic assessment approach. The survey offers a functional tool to assess previous knowledge in science communication, expectation, and interests before the training and a change in knowledge, skills, and planned behavior after the training. In addition, this thesis provides support for the hypothesis that an assessment framework can motivate science communication trainers to reflect on the utility of the deficit model and help them design, select, and use strategies that are appropriate for their initiatives. Researching the relationship between the current state of science communication training relying on the deficit model makes it evident that a revised approach to training is needed. This study adds to the understanding of science communication assessment as the first step for improvement.

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