Going beyond the one-off

16 February 2021

In 2019, Queen Mary’s Ogden outreach officer Dr Martin Archer (now the UKRI Stephen Hawking Fellow in Space Physics and Public Engagement at Imperial College London) took part in the annual conference of BIG – the skills sharing network for individuals involved in the communication of science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) subjects.

“I proposed and led a session for the BIG Event 2019, thanks to Ogden funding,” explains Martin. “Myself and my co-conveners wanted to bring together the evidence-base for repeat interventions. This featured a number of presentations from the conveners (including one from me) as well as lightning talk contributions from the wider community. We then opened the floor for a broad discussion about the topics and issues raised,” continues Martin.

“The notes taken, and the contacts established during the session guided us to consolidate what had been presented and discussed, as well as seeking out further published evidence. This was then collaboratively written up into the landscape review paper, submitted to Research for All for publication,” concludes Martin.

The resulting paper has now been published. Going beyond the one-off: How can STEM engagement programmes with young people have real lasting impact?

In summary, the paper concludes that although short one-off interventions do achieve immediate positive outcomes, they only have limited long-lasting impacts on aspirations. Outreach programmes incorporating repeated interventions and a deeper engagement with young people are emerging as a more popular and more effective model. However, there are sector-wide challenges to implementing and evaluating these emerging approaches. There is no one-size-fits-all solution to raising and subsequently maintaining the STEM pipeline, and a variety of different approaches are required throughout a young person’s educational journey.

Going beyond the one off, considers some of the current programmes where repeat inventions are in operation and looks at some of the challenges and possible solutions.

“This is a really valuable piece of research,” says Clare Harvey, Chief Executive of the Trust. “It resonates with the approach we are now encouraging and supporting within our outreach officer programme. A strategic, long-term approach to outreach and engagement, with effective evaluation, can make better use of limited financial resources and time, and ultimately can make a longer lasting impression on the students who take part.”

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