The Question of Dissemination: Using Video to Draw Broader Audiences to NSF Research

Consider the role project videos can play in dissemination of research with OSPrI describing their video experience, and NSF situating the work within their efforts to improve policymakers’ understanding of DR K–12 research and development.


A challenge for researchers and federal research funding institutions in the 21st century is how to get the word out on how research is pertinent and being used in by the field. According to Neild (2016, p1):

On one hand, the field has matured to the point where highly credible education research seems to come out on a weekly—sometimes daily—basis. Federal investment and infrastructure has contributed to a notable increase in the supply of rigorous studies that are widely available to educators and policymakers. But now, some have suggested that the billions of dollars invested in education research by federal agencies, including the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) and the National Science Foundation (NSF), have failed to make an impact. This failure, so the argument goes, tracks back to a research production system that is run by and for academic researchers and principally serves their needs and interests.

This raises the question of whether the research being produced has failed to make an impact on the field, or whether it has failed to make an impact on the policymakers and general public who are unfamiliar with the cycle of basic research, implementation, and scale-up. Is the problem one of improved dissemination?

In this session, presenters and participants will discuss dissemination of NSF research for public and policy audiences. Members of the NSF-funded OSPri and iSTEM projects will share short videos developed to reach a broader audience than the research community to generate interest in and preview findings from the work. These videos, created by a professional production studio specializing in school-related video, are designed to draw a non-researcher audience into our work. They are designed to be readily accessible, short, and yet capture an accurate depiction of the research.

Following an introductory statement of NSF’s dissemination goals, projects will provide a brief summary of their work and their inspiration for video dissemination. Next, using two videos as examples, participants will learn about and discuss challenges such as effectively portraying an inclusive STEM high school from multiple points of view, leading viewers toward a more rigorous view of the research findings, and distribution to lead viewers to explore the project website. Finally, NSF respondents and participants will discuss reactions, questions, and issues.

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