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Public Engagement: Talking Science to Laypersons as Perceived by Postgraduate Students in Jordan

Updated: Jul 15, 2018

Abdallah Khataybeh

Professor of Science Education, Yarmouk University, Irbid, Jordan,



This study aimed at investigating how and why to engage laypersons with science as perceived by postgraduate students in Jordan. A questionnaire consisted of (24) items, with 5 point Likert-Scale was used after conducting the validity and reliability of the questionnaire. Findings showed that the respondents showed positive perception towards engaging laypersons in science as it is vital for their daily life and using technology properly, and the importance of using layperson knowledge in communicating with them. Finally scientists need practice and knowledge to communicate with laypersons.


Long time ago science just used logical thinking; hands-on activities were not allowed. Scientists suffered and faced challenging times in their life, with many jailed and others killed. It was Thomas Bacon (1561-1622) who started talking about the practical aspect of science. He used his power during his work in the royal palace of the king at the time, and was very brave to mention hands-on activities. We can say that science was created in the elbows of scientists. Science is defined as knowledge and process. Knowledge is the concepts, facts, laws, principles and theories, while process is the basic and integrated science process skills, such as observing, predicting, operational definitions etc. Technology is the product of science, so science produces technology, while technology produces new scientific knowledge.

The main aim of science should be to improve, protect, and change the quality of human life, rather than destroy or degrade it. The rapid development of science could cause some threats to human life. Products of science could cause some kind of dangers to the people, but it is possible that some of these problems could have been avoided if lay people had been involved in the science and its application. This does not mean that science has improved human life.

Science and its application is of people, by people and for people (Bakuwa, 2014). There is a need for people to understand science to a certain depth not as scientists themselves. People need to know the ways of selecting choices (Merz,Fischhoff ,Mazur, &Fischbeck (1993)). That knowledge might include just estimates of some outcomes (e.g., amount of farm products, health costs). Or, it might require enough knowledge to understand why the experts make those estimates (Bruine , Bruine , and Bostrom (2013). Knowing that science allow members of the public to follow future improvement in the products of science. (Lupia , 2013, Reyna 2012).

This means that human will be the users of science and producer of science products (technology). A long time ago scientific experts carried out the development of science, such as engineers and technologists, while society was at the receiving end. It is important for everyone, but the general public lack an understanding of different parts of knowledge such as (concepts, scientific facts, and scientific theories) and the real methodology used by scientists.

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