Increasing internal stakeholder consensus about a university science center's outreach policies and procedures
ABTRACT For decades the United States has tried to increase the number of students pursuing science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education and careers. Educators and policy makers continue to seek strategies to increase the number of students in the STEM education pipeline. Public institutions of higher education are involved in this effort through education and public outreach (EPO) initiatives. Arizona State University opened its largest research facility, the new Interdisciplinary Science and Technology Building IV (ISTB4) in September, 2012. As the new home of the School of Earth & Space Exploration (SESE), ISTB4 was designed to serve the school's dedication to K-12 education and public outreach. This dissertation presents a menu of ideas for revamping the EPO program for SESE. Utilizing the Delphi method, I was able to clarify which ideas would be most supported, and those that would not, by a variety of important SESE stakeholders. The study revealed that consensus exists in areas related to staffing and expansion of free programming, whereas less consensus exist in the areas of fee-based programs. The following most promising ideas for improving the SESE's EPO effort were identified and will be presented to SESE's incoming director in July, 2013: (a) hire a full-time director, theater manager, and program coordinator; (b) establish a service-learning requirement obligating undergraduate SESE majors to serve as docent support for outreach programs; (c) obligate all EPO operations to advise, assist, and contribute to the development of curricula, activities, and exhibits; (d) perform a market and cost analysis of other informational education venues offering similar programming; (3) establish a schedule of fee-based planetarium and film offerings; and (f) create an ISTB4 centric, fee-based package of programs specifically correlated to K12 education standards that can be delivered as a fieldtrip experience.