Convergent Learning from Divergent Perspectives: Interdisciplinary Collaborations in Informal Science Communication

September 1st, 2018 - August 31st, 2021 | PROJECT

As part of its overall strategy to enhance learning in informal environments, the Advancing Informal STEM Learning (AISL) program seeks to advance new approaches to, and evidence-based understanding of, the design and development of STEM learning in informal environments. This includes providing multiple pathways for broadening access to and engagement in STEM learning experiences, advancing innovative research on and assessment of STEM learning in informal environments, and developing understandings of deeper learning by participants. This Innovations in Development project will develop a collaborative program to connect and prepare researchers from divergent disciplines to communicate science to publics of all ages in three distinct informal environments: pop-ups at community events, experiential learning with problem solving events for youth, and presentations at a science museum. It will study the effects of this program on the identity and motivations of STEM researchers and evaluate the short and medium-term outcomes for public audiences. Project partners include, The STEAM Factory, OHI/O Informal Learning in Tech Program, and the Center of Science and Industry (COSI) all located in Columbus, Ohio. The primary goals of this project are as follows. 1) Develop a collaborative program that connects and prepares researchers from divergent disciplines to creatively and effectively communicate science to people of all ages. 2) Evaluate the short and medium-term learning outcomes across different informal learning settings. 3) Study the effect of this collaborative program on the motivations and identify of the researchers. The specific research question is: In what ways do researchers motivations and identities further develop because of these collaborative experiences with divergent perspectives? A mixed method approach will be used. Data will be collected and analyzed from 3 cohorts of researchers who implement programs in different informal learning settings. A series of pre- and post interviews with scientists will be designed to answer the research question above. Interviews will be grounded in self-determination theory. Later reflective surveys will serve as triangulation for the data. This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.

Project Website(s)

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Project Products

Convergent learning from divergent perspectives: Final evaluation report

Team Members

Sathya Gopalakrishnan, Principal Investigator, Ohio State University
Justin Meyer, Co-Principal Investigator
Rachel Kajfez, Co-Principal Investigator
Arnab Nandi, Co-Principal Investigator


Funding Source: NSF
Funding Program: Advancing Informal STEM Learning (AISL)
Award Number: 1811119
Funding Amount: $812,888.00


Audience: General Public | Middle School Children (11-13) | Museum | ISE Professionals | Scientists | Youth | Teen (up to 17)
Discipline: General STEM
Resource Type: Project Descriptions
Environment Type: Community Outreach Programs | Museum and Science Center Programs | Public Events and Festivals | Public Programs

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This material is supported by National Science Foundation award DRL-2229061, with previous support under DRL-1612739, DRL-1842633, DRL-1212803, and DRL-0638981. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations contained within are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of NSF.

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