Methods of Knowledge Exchange and Learning Focused on Local Authorities' Experiences of Flood Science Communication

Alison Stokes, Carolyn Roberts, Kate Crowley, Lindsey Mcewen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Devastating floods in 2007 across western England resulted in legislative changes which have placed increased responsibility on local government for managing and mitigating local flood risk. For these changes to be effective, professional stakeholders need to understand fundamental concepts in flood science of which they may have no prior knowledge or experience. Engagement with flood science research is therefore critical to developing the knowledge needed effectively to manage flood hazards. This paper assesses the implementation and evaluation of learning and communication strategies designed to encourage the exchange of flood-related knowledge between academic researchers and local government representatives. Ninety-six local government officers and 27 elected representatives with a role and/or interest in flooding, from three administrative districts, participated in workshops delivered in one of three pedagogically distinct styles: tutor-led classroom-based, tutor-led virtual, or participant-led role-play. Cutting-edge flood science knowledge, delivered by expert flood scientists via short videos, formed a key element of all workshops, while local case-study material provided context and resonance. Participants' experiences of the workshops, and the perceived impact on flood-related knowledge and skill development, were investigated using a mixed-methods approach incorporating pre- and post-workshop surveys, semi-structured interviews, and direct observation. Findings imply an overall positive impact on knowledge, skills, and decision-making ability, although some significant variation is identified relating to workshop style and professional role. While results suggest no ideal approach to knowledge exchange, the paper identifies challenges and opportunities for the strategies developed, makes recommendations for good practice, and offers suggestions for further research.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)114-138
JournalInternational Journal of Science Education, Part B: Communication and Public Engagement
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 3 Apr 2015


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