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PERFORM Report Summary

Project ID: 665826
Funded under: H2020-EU.5.a.

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - PERFORM (Participatory Engagement with Scientific and Technological Research through Performance)

Reporting period: 2015-11-01 to 2017-01-31

Summary of the context and overall objectives of the project

PERFORM is what happens when performing arts and scientific research are combined for the sake of innovating science education. This collaborative project actively involves secondary school students, their teachers, and early career researchers in inquiry-based learning about scientific topics of their interest by using clown based on improvisational theatre, stand-up comedy, and science busking to engage them in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). In doing this, our consortium aims to investigate the impact of such innovative and participatory science education methods based on performing arts (PERSEIAs) in fostering secondary school students’ motivations and engagement in STEM.
European adolescents often have a narrow concept of science, which can limit their future engagement with the subject. Many also struggle to identify, on a cultural level, with science and hence do not aspire to scientific careers. This lack of aspiration is particularly seen among girls and those from low socio-economic backgrounds.
PERFORM takes action to overcome the remaining distance between young people and science, and to break the unidirectional model of scientific knowledge transfer still prevalent in science teaching and learning in formal settings, through connecting science with the arts, from STEM to STEAM. To this end PERFORM will:
1) Explore new science education methods based on scenic arts that lead secondary school students to understand and to learn about STEM.
2) Identify and challenge limitations faced by secondary school teachers and early career researchers in teaching and communicating STEM to young people.
3) Assess the impact of the participatory educational process in fostering secondary school students’ motivations and engagement in science and with Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) values.
4) Implement a sound communication strategy for the dissemination and exploitation of the research results for widespread policy adoption and implementation across Europe.

Work performed from the beginning of the project to the end of the period covered by the report and main results achieved so far

In this first period of the project (Nov 2015-Jan 2017), PERFORM developed relevant work to develop guidelines to transform learning activities combining science and performing arts into new performance-based science education and innovation activities (PERSEIAs) addressing the human dimension of science and the RRI values, as well as to design a participatory assessment methodology to evaluate students’ learning outcomes from the co-production of their own PERSEIAs. We also worked on developing trainings for improving early career researchers’ capacity for science communication and education, and on disseminating the project and promoting its policy impact.
TRACES, The Big Van Theory and Science Made Simple, as PERFORM science communicators, designed PERSEIAs on clown based on improvisation theatre in France, stand-up comedy in Spain, and science busking in the UK. These PERSEIAs addressed secondary students’ perceptions about STEM careers, science related stereotypes, and ethics and gender issues in science gathered from exploratory workshops with 467 students in 12 schools. PERSEIAs were tested and, as a result, a detailed protocol on how to take in the most relevant aspects of the human dimension of science and RRI values in a performance-based science education activity to develop a PERSEIA is currently being produced.
PERFORM also initiated a participatory learning process with 102 secondary school students to co-create their own PERSEIAs with the collaboration of 12 teachers and 14 early career researchers. These researchers, together with other 42 researchers, attended the trainings on responsible science communication skills designed and delivered by Atelier des Jours À Venir in Paris, by the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona and the Universitat Oberta de Catalunya in Barcelona, and by the University of Bristol in Bristol. In parallel, we started to work on the training for secondary school teachers.
Also in this period, the Universitat Autònoma of Barcelona and the Universitat Oberta de Catalunya designed an assessment strategy to evaluate the impact of the participatory learning process on students’ learning and engagement in STEM. This was done by conducting a systematic literature review and exploratory workshops with students on their motivations to participate in science education activities. As a result, we elaborated a research report describing the battery of 93 expert-based and participatory indicators, which findings are included in a conference proceedings and two scientific articles currently (under peer-review). The resultant assessment strategy combines structured observation, pre and post surveys, interviews, focus groups, and formative evaluation, targeting the different stakeholders involved. Also for assessment purposes, University of Warwick started to set up the data collection parameters for social media data harvesting on relevant platforms. We obtained informed consent from all participants.
Furthermore, UNESCO designed the sustainability plan of PERFORM and organized a two days’ conference to present and promote PERFORM to 80 local students and 53 representatives of UNESCO’s Permanent Delegations in Paris on the occasion of the World Science Day 2016. The European Science Events Association elaborated the plan for communication, dissemination and exploitation of the PERFORM results, designed the graphic identity of the project, and launched the website ( and social media tools to be used to convey the results: Twitter (@performstem), Facebook (, Instagram (performstem), and YouTube with 8 videos (Perform research).

Progress beyond the state of the art and expected potential impact (including the socio-economic impact and the wider societal implications of the project so far)

During this period PERFORM work contributed to the update of innovation methods on science education based on performing arts. New performance-based science education activities (PERSEIAs) addressing the RRI values were generated by using clown based on improvisation theatre, stand-up comedy and science busking. PERSEIAs are innovative because they combine science and performing arts to foster students’ interest in science and scientific careers through showing and reflecting about gender equality in research, science-related stereotypes, young people’s concerns about European challenges and the role of science in addressing them, ethical issues related to the scientific practice, and other RRI related issues. These new PERSEIAs were performed to a total of 2,407 students in 35 secondary schools in France, Spain and UK. It is expected to finalise the writing of a detailed protocol which will allow for PERSEIAs further exploitation. 102 students are now co-producing their PERSEIAs with 12 teachers and 14 researchers.
A total of 56 researchers attended trainings on responsible science communication in Paris, Barcelona and Bristol, disseminated by using PEFORM social media. It is expected to organise trainings for teachers and a second round for researchers.
PERFORM also contributed to the operationalisation of RRI in the field of science education. We published a research report and work in a conference proceedings and two academic publications are under review.
The consortium is disseminating these results through its web and social media, with almost 700 visitors and 229 followers on Twitter, and by organising a conference and attending 22 dissemination events, 13 with other H2020 projects. PERFORM is included in Scientix.

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