The impacts of science are felt across all socio-ecological levels, ranging from the individual to societal. In order to adapt or respond to scientific discoveries, novel technologies, or biomedical or environmental challenges, a fundamental understanding of science is necessary. However, antiscientific rhetoric, mistrust in science, and the dissemination of misinformation hinder the promotion of science as a necessary and beneficial component of our world. Scientists can promote scientific literacy by establishing dialogues with nonexperts, but they may find a lack of formal training as a barrier to public engagement. To address this, the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (ASBMB) launched the Art of Science Communication course in 2015 in order to provide scientists at all career stages with introductory science communication training. In 2020, we conducted a retrospective survey of former participants to evaluate how the course had impacted participants’ science communication behaviors and their confidence engaging with nonexperts, as well as other benefits to their professional development. We found that scientists were significantly more likely to communicate with nonexpert audiences following the course compared to before (77% versus 51%; P < 0.0001). In addition, quantitative and qualitative data suggested that scientists were more confident in their ability to communicate science after completing the course (median of 8, standard deviation [SD] of 0.98 versus median of 5, SD of 1.57; P < 0.0001). Qualitative responses from participants supported quantitative findings. This suggested that the Art of Science Communication course is highly effective at improving the confidence of scientists to engage with the public and other nonexpert audiences regardless of career status. These data-driven perspectives provide a rationale for the implementation of broadly accessible science communication training programs that promote public engagement with science.
Swords CM, Porter JS, Hawkins AJ, Li E, Rowland-Goldsmith M, Koci MD, Tansey JT, Woitowich NC. 2023. Science communication training imparts confidence and influences public engagement activity. J Microbiol Biol Educ. https://doi.org/10.1128/jmbe.00037-23
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