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Nancy Longnecker's Research Interests

Impact of Science Engagement

Improved understanding of impact and what makes science engagement activities and resources more effective is the main aim of much of Nancy’s research. She and others in her research group have examined motivations and barriers to participation in citizen science programs and whether participation in citizen science and other science engagement activities changes attitudes, understanding and behaviour. They also look at how informal science educators work with science teachers and students to provide stimulating and authentic science experiences.

From 2011 to 2014 Nancy and colleagues worked with funding from the Australian Government’s Inspiring Australia to develop the evidence base for science communication in Australia. Her group developed evaluation resources being used by science communicators across Australia.

Results from empirical studies are now informing work on a framework for effective science engagement.

Selected References:
Longnecker, N., Elliott, J., Gondwe, M. (2014). Inspiring Australia: An Evaluation Tool for Science Engagement Activities. Perth, WA.
Fletcher, J., Salter, Z. & Longnecker, N. (2014). Not just a load of rubbish: A marine debris citizen program’s impact on school teachers. Public Communication of Science and Technology. Salvado, 7 Brazil, March, 2014.

Bickford, S., Longnecker, N, & Venville, G. (2011). Student and Teacher Feedback on a Science Careers Outreach Program: An ‘Alignment’ Perspective. National Association for Research in Science Teaching (NARST), Orlando, FL.

Salter, Zarin, Grady Venville and Nancy Longnecker. (2011). An Australian Story: School sustainability education in the lucky country. Australian Journal of Environmental Education. 27(1): 149- 159.


Motivations to Participate in Science

Prior to her transition to science communication, Nancy gained her Bachelor’s in Biology at The University of the South in Sewanee Tennessee and her Masters and PhD in crop science and plant nutrition at Cornell University. She then moved to Australia and conducted agricultural research at the Waite Institute in Adelaide and at UWA.

‘The early part of my career in agricultural research provided perspective that has been important to my development as a professional science communicator and as a science communication academic,’ she said. Her combined interest and background as a research scientist have caused her to reflect on her own and others’ motivations to become professional scientists.

Selected References:

Venville, G., Rennie, L., Hanbury, C., & Longnecker, N. (2013). Scientists reflect on why they chose to study science. Research in Science Education. 43: 2207- 2233. DOI 10.1007/s11165-013-9352-3 . pacer

Venville, Grady, Mary Oliver, Nancy Longnecker and Léonie Rennie. (2010). Selecting Science Subjects: Why Students Do, Why They Can’t! Teaching Science. 56(3):19- 26.


Multiple Perspectives

Good science communication respects people’s values and different sources of knowledge. Previous research in Nancy’s group has examined various perceptions of scientific and cultural knowledge.

Selected References:

Gondwe, M. & Longnecker, N. (2014) Scientific and cultural knowledge in intercultural science education: student perceptions of common ground. Research in Science Education. DOI: 10.1007/s11165-014-9416-z

Abecasis, R., N. Longnecker, L. Schmidt and J. Clifton. (2013). Implications of community and stakeholder perceptions of the marine environment and its conservation for MPA management in a small Azorean island. Ocean and Coastal Management; 84: 208- 219.


The Value of Stories

Effectiveness of storytelling in communicating science is an area of Nancy’s research that she will expand on at Otago. She has been an investigator on two Australian Research Council grants that relate to the power of stories in learning science:

• Einsteinian Physics: Investigating the Learning and Teaching of the New Paradigm in Schools (2014- 2016).

• Measuring the Effectiveness of Specialist Science Enrichment Programs (2010- 2012).

Nancy is also supervising student research in this area.

Selected References:

Ishigami, K. Gondwe, M. Williams & Longnecker, N. (2014). Learning science by reading stories. Proceedings of conference of Australian Science Communicators. 3-5 Feb, 2014. Brisbane, Qld.

Gondwe, M. & Longnecker, N. (2013). Student generated films about science and culture; a cross-cultural case study of Malawian and Australian schools. African Studies Association of Australasia and the Pacific. Murdoch University. Perth, Nov, 2013.


Science Communication Education

Nancy has an understanding of the scholarly discipline of science communication, experience as a professional science communicator as well as comprehensive teaching experience. She developed nine of UWA’s SCOM papers (including Communication Strategies for Change, Exhibitions and Interpretation and Science and the Media) and taught all nine the first time they were delivered. She taught most of those papers for five to nine years. She uses her experience to conduct research aimed at improving the teaching and learning of science communication in higher education.

Selected References:

Longnecker, N. and M. Gondwe. (2014). Graduate degree programmes in science communication: Educating and training science communicators to work with communities In: Communicating Science to the Public: Opportunities and Challenges for the Asia-Pacific Region (Ed: Hin, L.T.W. & Subramaniam, R.). DOI 10.1007/978-94-017-9097-0_9, Springer Netherlands.

Sullivan, M. & N. Longnecker. (2014). Creating a Community of Learners: Class Blogs as a Teaching Tool to Promote Writing and Student Interaction. Australasian Journal for Education Technology. (30)4: 390- 401.

Pegrum, M., N. Longnecker and E. Bartle. (2014) Can Creative Podcasting Promote Deep Learning? British Journal of Educational Technology. doi:10.1111/bjet.12133.

Rifkin, W., Longnecker, N., Leach, J., & Davis, L. (2012). Assigning students to publish on the web: Examples, hurdles, and needs. Journal of the NUS Teaching Academy, 2 (2), 79-94.

Bartle, E., N. Longnecker and M. Pegrum (2011). Collaboration, Contextualisation and Communication Using New Media: Introducing Podcasting into an Undergraduate Chemistry Class. International Journal of Innovation in Science and Mathematics Education. 19(1):16-28.

H.A.J. Mulder, N. Longnecker and L.S. Davis. (2008). The State of Science Communication Programs at Universities around the World. Science Communication. 30(2): 277-287.