Physicists and Outreach: Implications of schools physics outreach programmes from the perspective of the participating physicists
Supervisor: Professor Michael Reiss
This thesis examines physics outreach activities from the perspective of the participating physicists. It explores the nuances of physics outreach to school audiences in the context of wider outreach and public engagement agendas for higher education. The study employs mixed methods, comprising an electronic survey and case studies. The case studies follow audiences through nine physics outreach activities that are observed, complemented by semi-structured interviews with the physicists that took part in the activity after the event. Physicists’ perceptions and understandings of their audience, and the ways in which the audience are recruited, are shown to be crucial factors in delivering successful outreach activities. Parameters for successful outreach from this perspective are determined, and recommendations made for how such indicators might be developed further by outreach programme managers and influencers such as the Institute of Physics. Obtaining the data needed for this study was only made possible through links to the growing networks of outreach professionals in this field, and the positive impact of such roles was made clear by the participating physicists. The findings of this study will be used to influence physics schools outreach practice, and have relevance to other subjects and audiences.
Thesis full reference:
Thorley, C. (2016) Physicists and Outreach: Implications of schools physics outreach programmes from the perspective of the participating physicists. Unpublished EdD thesis, London: UCL Institute of Education
Dr Charlotte Thorley
Freelance Public Engagement and Involvement Consultant
Honorary Senior Research Associate, UCL Institute of Education