Evaluating impact and quality of experience in the 21st century: using technology to narrow the gap between science communication research and practice

part of Beyond dissemination — science communication as impact

Access to high quality evaluation results is essential for science communicators to identify negative patterns of audience response and improve outcomes. However, there are many good reasons why robust evaluation linked is not routinely conducted and linked to science communication practice. This essay begins by identifying some of the common challenges that explain this gap between evaluation evidence and practice. Automating evaluation processes through new technologies is then explicated as one solution to these challenges, capable of yielding accurate real-time results that can directly feed into practice. Automating evaluation through smartphone and web apps tied to open source analysis tools can deliver on-going evaluation insights without the expense of regularly employing external consultants or hiring evaluation experts in-house. While such automation does not address all evaluation needs, it can save resources and equip science communicators with the information they need to continually enhance practice for the benefit of their audiences.