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Research Articles

Vol. 27 No. 4

How Physical Science Doctoral Students View and Value their Involvement in Educational Outreach in Graduate School

  • Anne McAlister
  • Sarah Lilly
March 31, 2022


Educational outreach can benefit both the broader community and scientists themselves while fulfilling the service mission of many universities and funding programs. Involvement in educational outreach can benefit doctoral students, via improved teaching and classroom management skills, increased experimental design skills, strengthened sense of identity and belonging in science, and refined science communication skills. However, doctoral students are frequently encouraged to prioritize research over teaching or educational outreach. Understanding the complexities of their perceptions of educational outreach is important for supporting all doctoral students to receive the benefits of participating in this activity. In this study, we interviewed eight physical science doctoral students who participated in an educational outreach program at a medium-sized public research university. Cross-case analysis revealed that participants viewed both benefits and burdens to participating in educational outreach and reported feeling that outreach was less valued by their institution, their community, and, in turn, themselves.