1 Oct 2017 to 30 Sep 2019
1 Oct 2017 to 30 Sep 2019
Training and continuous professional development (CPD) in public engagement is one of nine core strands of work to embed a positive culture of public engagement with research at universities. However, research has highlighted that these opportunities also act as a potential barrier to engagement through a perceived lack of availability or relevance of the training on offer (The State of Play: Public Engagement with Research in UK Universities).
ChallengeCPD@Bath (2017-2019) aimed to investigate the take-up and impact of training and CPD opportunities in public engagement and was funded by UK Research and Innovation as part of the Strategic Support to Expedite Embedding Public Engagement with Research call.
Over the course of the two-year project, we critically examined our training and professional development for public engagement with research. In year one we looked across the literature and assembled an Advisory Group of critical friends made up of academic staff from the University of Bath and beyond and providers of public engagement training.
Learning from this examination is available in Featherstone, H. and Owen D. (2018) Continuous Professional Development for Public Engagement. University of Bath
Key points about training and professional development from this work informed the development and delivery of activities in year two. This included:
creating case studies of researchers' public engagement learning journeys featuring key learning moments and interventions
developing toolkit for researchers to self assess their skills for public engagement. Download the Public Engagement Skills Self-Assessment Toolkit.
piloting co-produced training. Experimenting with an open funding call we funded five co-produced training programmes (download our Report on Co-producing Training with Researchers) and co-producing a module on public engagement with research with and for doctoral students (download our Report on Co-producing a Public Engagement Module for Doctoral Students)
producing workshops and guides for enablers of public engagement with research and external training providers. Download our Rough Guide: Running Training for Public Engagement
evaluating the value of the National Coordinating Centre for Public Engagement's and the University of Manchester's Quality Framework for Public Engagement. Download The Role and Value of Quality Frameworks for Public Engagement with Research Training report
sharing our findings with public engagement professionals from across the higher education sector through conference presentations and submitting a paper in the Research for All journal
Through our ChallengeCPD@Bath work we identified four key learning points about training and professional development for public engagement:
the issues associated with professional development for public engagement are not unique to public engagement training – there is a wider culture of resistance to formal professional development within universities which disadvantages CPD for public engagement
professional development is more than just training - people are less tuned into training opportunities in general and perhaps have a limited view of what counts as training as a result of the culture around CPD at universities. This means significant interventions may not be reported as ‘training’ in surveys such as Factors Affecting Public Engagement survey
it’s about the learner, not the intervention - we need to put the learner first in our training interventions through involvement in developing activities, assessing and surfacing their existing skills, knowledge and behaviours from other non-public engagement work, and evaluating the impact of the intervention on their broader professional development and career aspirations
learning can take time to be realised - evaluation of professional development should not primarily be about the intervention but about the benefits the learner has derived from the experience. We need to take a longer term approach to evaluating an intervention to fully understand the impact of those opportunities.
The insight from the project has helped the Public Engagement Unit reshape the way we think about professional development for public engagement. We applied this analysis to: improve the quality of provision, develop guidance and inform the development of new forms of training and CPD. We now frame all our activities, from our Engage Grants to our one-to-one help/advice/guidance, more overtly as opportunities for researchers to learn about public engagement.
The approach and key findings from ChallengeCPD@Bath our outlined in more detail in the ChallengeCPD@Bath Project Report.
Training for public engagement is an essential element in creating a positive culture of public engagement with research, so why is it so difficult?
What we call our training offer tells us a lot about the culture towards professional development at universities and how that impacts our work.
How the way training is developed may be having an impact on the perception and value of the professional development offer.