We've been lucky enough to have the I'm a Scientist... team helping us with our ChallengeCPD work.
They had anecdotal evidence that participating in I'm a Scientist... is an effective training intervention. By taking a closer look at the confidence levels and writing skills of I'm a Scientist... participants they have found out more about how I'm a Scientist... boosts confidence levels because of the text-based nature of the engagement, frequent opportunities to practice and honest student feedback.
This offers us useful insight for training more generally. We are aware that the combination of doing public engagement and training for public engagement is effective because people can apply their new learning. We also know that once people have done some public engagement, they rank the experience over the training as being the most effective training experience (rather than any preparatory intervention).
The observation that being able to frequently practice while participating in a zone, resonates with my experiences of working with scientists delivering at music festivals. However, it's worth noting that this differs significantly in that the interactions in a festival are face-to-face. We all know how hard it can be extricate ourselves from someone who's over-talking at us, and is certainly something I've seen with a handful researchers in what should be fast-paced drop-in activities at festivals. The text-based interaction allowed the young people to withdraw readily when a conversation wasn't going so well for them. This is MUCH harder when someone's looking you in the eyes!
How do we apply this to CPD more broadly? Can we always provide rapid-fire practice opportunities? How do we create that simple, and permissible, exit strategy that comes with online interactions?
Read more about the work here: