It’s well established that scientists doing I’m a Scientist gain just as many positive outcomes as the students they talk to. Using the Vitae Researcher Development Framework to frame these benefits allows us to articulate them in a way that resonates with universities.
Recently, we surveyed event alumni from centres of doctoral training (CDTs) to quantify the effect of taking part on relevant RDF descriptors. This is part of our ongoing strategy to build the evidence base for IAS as a CPD activity which departments can offer to their students. In total, 37 alumni who had taken part in I’m a Scientist or I’m an Engineer at least 3 months prior responded.
Pleasingly, we saw positive effects across the board. Here we breakdown the key results by relevant RDF domain (don’t worry, we weren’t interested in all 60+ descriptors).
RDF Domain B – Personal effectiveness
81% of respondents considered taking part as contributing to their Continuing Professional Development (B3 Continuing professional development B3)
73% say that taking part increased their enthusiasm and passion for their research (B1 Enthusiasm, B1 Self-confidence, B1 Self-reflection)
- Getting to reflect on their personal motivations and the interest that students showed in their research were the biggest contributing factor to this effect.
68% had seen benefits to either their professional networks, the number of opportunities offered to them, and their profile and reputation as a researcher. (B3 Continuing professional development B3, Responsiveness to opportunities, B3 Networking )
“It seems to have been a big positive on my CV, which I have to admit I didn’t expect. I was asked about it specifically both at interview, and later by my line manager during the induction process.” – CDT student
“It establish me as an enthusiastic researcher willing to engage with researchers. if future employers google me they find something positive straight away.” – CDT student
RDF Domain D – Engagement, influence and impact
94% said taking part improved their ability to communicate research with public audiences
- Being able to ‘adapt language for different ability levels’ was the most improved skill among respondents
92% said they adapted their approach to communicating with students as the event went on
91% continue to use phrases they developed during the event to explain what they do in other contexts (D2 Communication methods, D2 Communication media, D3 Public engagement, also A3 Argument construction)
69% said taking part had improved their understanding of the impact of their research on society in some way (D3 Society and culture, D3 Global citizenship, D3 Public engagement, also C1 Ethics, principles and sustainability)
- The impact of their research on people’s everyday lives was the area most had improved this understanding. Understanding of ethical issues and the economic value of their research were other improved areas.
“Writing an answer, it’s much easier to stop using jargon, it was a good lesson in recalibrating yourself… Now when you go to do face to face outreach you feel more equipped.” – CDT student
‘”Engineers typically do not have a lot of time to give back to the society in the form of public discussion, but this experience highlighted that it is very important to have those conversations with new generations coming through and as a result I have participated in more public engagement activities than I previously would have.” – CDT student