Nothing in biology (communication) makes sense except in the light of evaluation – The evolution of the Darwin Day

Nothing in biology (communication) makes sense except in the light of evaluation – The evolution of the Darwin Day

Author: Carolin Enzigmüller – IPN Kiel, Germany


  • Christina Claussen – IPN Kiel, Germany
  • Kerstin Kremer – Leibniz University Hannover, Germany
  • Ilka Parchmann – IPN Kiel, Germany
  • Hinrich Schulenburg – Kiel University, Germany

STEM university-led outreach is a key element of scientists’ effort to communicate their research. Yet, the question has been raised whether existing outreach initiatives are used to their full potential: Some argue that too little time is invested in examining, discussing, and deciding on what to communicate and why. Others say that even if goals are set, they are not transformed into actual design choices. Furthermore, effective outreach evaluations are still rare and scientists get no feedback concerning the adaption to the target group. We want to turn outreach into a more meaningful experience for scientists and accomplish better outcomes through interdisciplinary collaborations between scientists and educational researchers. In our project, scientists from the Kiel Evolution Center and science educators from the Kiel Science Outreach Campus joined forces to review and advance an outreach event at Kiel University, the Darwin Day. Every year, the Darwin Day attracts about 1200 secondary school students to get insights into innovative research on evolutionary biology. Evaluation results showed that the format is yet effective in informing about evolutionary biology research. In a further step, we now set the goal to improve the format´s effectiveness in raising students´ interest and affective attitudes towards science and scientists. To achieve this, we are conducting interviews with the scientists to specify our perceptions about their expectations and goals regarding the event and collect pre-and-post data on student outcomes. Furthermore, students will serve as “outreach reviewers”, providing feedback on how to improve the format and how to achieve the outreach goals. Based on the findings, we will discuss, how the format can be further developed, making it more interactive and engaging for participants. In addition to learning from the evaluation itself, our goal is to see if this project leads to a more reflective approach for university outreach events.

The author has not yet submitted a copy of the full paper.

Presentation type: Insight talk
Theme: Transformation