Yesterday’s poll about “outreach” activities drew 117 responses by this morning. Since PollDaddy stupidly calculates percentages for ticky-box polls based on the number of total selections, not the number of people who vote, the graph you get when you view the results is kind of useless. A better version, using the “CHECK THIS BOX” count, is here:
These responses line up reasonably well with my own impressions of the term. I’m a little surprised that “Demo Shows” doesn’t get 100%, even if you factor out the three people who clicked “I would not deign to know what outreach is.” This probably gives you an estimate of the “people who click buttons at random” contribution to the overall uncertainty. Some of the “other” responses were pretty good, too– I’ll put those below the fold.
In general, though, huge majorities agree that presentations to general audiences are “outreach,” tailing off a bit as you get to more promotional-type activities. Media relations activities are clearly not considered “outreach.”
This is pretty much what I would expect– activities that necessarily involve scientists are “outreach,” while those that are most likely pushed off on press officers are not. In terms of actual impact– that is, the number of people who get some information about science as a result– the media stuff is probably more effective, but it’s not something that takes up researchers’ time, so it doesn’t get put in the same mental category.
It’s interesting to note that media appearances and the like are counted under “service” in our faculty activity reports for the merit pay system here, along with other “outreach: type activities. Anything that gets “Union College” mentioned in a positive media context counts toward the service expectation for faculty.
The “Other” responses to the poll:
- Speaking to children in schools about science and being a scientist.
- Weekly after school programs
- being your friendly neighborhood scientist!
- Short (news) videos in YouTube
- Curriculum design below the undergraduate level
Nothing too surprising in any of this. I figured as long as I have the data, though, I might as well present it in a useful format.