Assessing Science Engagement Through Social Media – NOVA scienceNOW season 7

November 1st, 2014 - October 31st, 2017 | PROJECT

This early-stage design and development, integrated media and research project will contribute important new understandings to the informal science learning literature by exploring science engagement on social media when integrated with broadcast television. It will help answer questions including: What does such engagement look like? Who participates? How and why does it happen? and What is the degree or depth of engagement? The project builds on the previous successful work by WGBH nationally distributing the television series NOVA scienceNOW and the research expertise of EDC. WGBH's NOVA scienceNOW program will collaborate with EDC to develop new metrics to understand how and why learners engage with science on social media. Deliverables will include six one-hour episodes of NOVA scienceNOW, short online videos, moderated online discussion events, and an online film festival. A new social Media Initiative will develop six live broadcast microblogging events, six post-broadcast online discussion events, daily social media updates, and an online film festival that will feature user generated videos. A range of STEM content in the videos and online posts will be framed around big science and engineering questions such as animal communication and survival systems, the biology of sleep, climate change, new technologies, energy, genetics, and natural disasters. The continued innovations and expansion of social media channels provides significant new opportunities for providing learner's access to high quality science content, researchers, and opportunities to participate in science. In the first phase of this work to deepen the evidence based understanding of how social media supports informal science engagement, NOVA and EDC will collaborate to develop new measurement instruments: (1) a Network Profile to quantitatively represent the size and activity of NOVA's social media network; (2) an Informal Science Engagement (ISE) index to measure the degree of engagement by coding and analyzing conversations and posts; (3) a Follower Profile to assess the degree of activity and the nature of the engagement; and (4) a Science Social Media Engagement survey instrument. They will then use these measures and data collection protocols to explore whether and how the initiative might influence science engagement. External expert reviewers with content and methodological expertise will review all aspects of the project at critical junctures. This project will contribute important new knowledge and research instruments and methods to better understand how the learning opportunities of social media channels can be realized most effectively. This has significant potential for broad and lasting benefits to society as well as advancing the informal science learning field.

Project Website(s)

(no project website provided)

Project Products
Assessing Science Engagement through Social Media: NOVA Wonders

Team Members

Paula Apsell, Principal Investigator, WGBH Educational Foundation


Funding Source: NSF
Funding Program: ISE/AISL
Award Number: 1420749
Funding Amount: 2400000


Audience: Evaluators | General Public | Museum | ISE Professionals
Discipline: Climate | Computing and information science | Education and learning science | General STEM | Technology
Resource Type: Project Descriptions
Environment Type: Broadcast Media | Media and Technology | Websites | Mobile Apps | Online Media