Evaluating the motivations and expectations of those attending a public astronomy event

Curtis, Vickie (2013). Evaluating the motivations and expectations of those attending a public astronomy event. Communicating Astronomy to the Public, 13 pp. 14–18.

URL: http://www.capjournal.org/issues/13/13_14.php

Abstract

The focus on a one-way flow of information from scientists to members of the public has been criticised for presuming public ignorance and offering few opportunities for interaction and debate. In response to these criticisms, recent approaches have promoted dialogue, participation and engagement between scientists and members of the public.

However, it is not known to what extent members of the public prefer newer dialogic approaches to those with educational content. What do they value in a science outreach event? To explore this issue further, I investigated nine weekly public open evenings at the Institute of Astronomy at the University of Cambridge, UK. In this article I will describe the main features of these public events, outline my approach in exploring the participants’ motivation to engage with astronomy, and detail my research findings.

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