Changing children’s understanding of the brain: a longitudinal study of the Royal Institution Christmas Lectures as a measure of public engagement

Gjersoe, Nathalia L. and Hood, Bruce (2013). Changing children’s understanding of the brain: a longitudinal study of the Royal Institution Christmas Lectures as a measure of public engagement. PLoS ONE, 8(11), article no. e80928.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0080928

URL: http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.137...

Abstract

Demonstrating the impact of public engagement is an increasingly important activity for today’s academics and researchers. The difficulty is that many areas of interest do not lend themselves well to evaluation because the impact of each single intervention can be hard to trace and take time to become manifest. With this in mind, we evaluated a lecture based around the 2011 Royal Institution Christmas Lectures, ”Meet Your Brain,” delivered to school children from low performing schools. We compared knowledge about four neuroscience facts one week before, one week after and six weeks after the lecture. Analysis revealed significant knowledge transfer one week after the lecture that was retained five weeks later. We conclude that public engagement through tailored lectures can have significant impact in the moderate term with the potential to leave a lasting impression over a longer period.

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