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Evaluating Public Engagement

An internal review of public engagement by Professor Sheena Cruickshank in 2015 revealed that evaluation of public engagement is rarely undertaken and that evaluation support is something that many public engagement workers would appreciate.

Dee-Ann Johnson, Public Engagement Manager at The University of Manchester.‌In light of that review, two public engagement evaluation courses have been developed and are delivered twice annually. However, as we move towards REF2021 and more strategic institutional approaches to quality public engagement, there is still more to do support our research community at large.

Dr Eric Jensen, a leading social scientist specialising in innovative methods of conducting evaluation, has developed an online course titled Public Engagement Evaluation Course, which has proved to be a big hit.

"The self-paced course has been incredibly useful in improving my knowledge, skills and practice of developing evaluation strategies and methodologies for public engagement," Dee-Ann Johnson, Public Engagement Manager at The University of Manchester, said.

"An essential part of my learning was in reinforcing the importance of developing an evaluation plan, with a purpose and clear outcomes.

"Too often we start with evaluation by focussing on data collection techniques, but knowing what you want to achieve, who needs to be involved, what challenges may need to be addressed and balancing ambition against resources is vital to a successful evaluation approach."

Two public engagement evaluation training courses (Beginners and Masterclass) are offered at the University and have now been enhanced to reflect current evaluation practice, and are open to all staff.

The courses, which can be accessed via Staff Learning and Development, are available to research staff and professional services staff alike.

This opportunity was funded through the Professional Development stream of the University of Manchester ISSF Public Engagement Fund.