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Geoscience Communication An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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https://doi.org/10.5194/gc-2020-41
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/gc-2020-41
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

  13 Oct 2020

13 Oct 2020

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This preprint is currently under review for the journal GC.

Demonstrating change from a drop-in engagement activity through pre- and post- graffiti walls: Quantitative linguistics and thematic analysis applied to a space soundscape exhibit

Martin O. Archer1,2, Natt Day3, and Sarah Barnes3 Martin O. Archer et al.
  • 1Space and Atmospheric Physics, Department of Physics, Imperial College London, London, UK
  • 2School of Physics and Astronomy, Queen Mary University of London, London, UK
  • 3Centre for Public Engagement, Queen Mary University of London, London, UK

Abstract. Impact evaluation in public engagement necessarily requires measuring change, however this is extremely challenging for drop-in activities due to their very nature. We present a soundscape exhibit, where young families experienced the usually inaudible sounds of near-Earth space, which used a novel method of evaluation integrating pre- and post- graffiti walls into the activity. We apply two analysis techniques to the captured before and after data: 1) Quantitative linguistics – Applying Zipf's law (the power law statistics of words) reveals an increased diversity of language concerning space afterwards, highlighting participants engaged with and reflected upon the sounds; 2) Thematic analysis – Finding and grouping patterns in the qualitative data shows altered conceptions of space around aspects of sound, dynamism, emptiness and electricity, areas highly relevant to the underlying space plasma physics of the sonified data. Therefore, we demonstrate that this novel approach to drop-in activity evaluation has the power to capture change from before to after, and thus short-term impact – specifically in this case showing the power of data sonification in innately communicating science. We suggest the method could be adopted by others in their drop-in engagement activities more broadly.

Martin O. Archer et al.

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Martin O. Archer et al.

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Short summary
We show that integrating evaluation tools both before and after a drop-in activity enables a demonstration of change and thus short-term impact. In our case, young families who listened to space sounds exhibited changed language and conceptions about space in their graffiti wall responses, exemplifying the power of sound in science communication. We suggest the method could be adopted by others in their drop-in engagement activities more broadly.
We show that integrating evaluation tools both before and after a drop-in activity enables a...
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