Relating Research to Practice in Informal Learning Environments: A Proof of Concept

August 15th, 2010 - July 31st, 2012 | PROJECT

This EAGER grant supported initial exploratory work on the utility and feasibility of providing informal science education (ISE) educators with access to current and relevant peer-reviewed research findings. The investigators of the Center for Informal Learning and Schools (CILS) in San Francisco and London and the Learning in Informal and Formal Environments (LIFE) Center at the University of Washington selected some 200 peer-reviewed research studies from published journals and translated them into practitioner-friendly language. The translations sought to explicitly note the relevance of the findings to informal science education contexts. The translated abstracts were posted on a website that was field tested with some 500 ISE practitioners to determine whether the translations and presentations of the research were accessible and usable. The audience during this exploratory phase was educators who design and lead science education programs for children and youth in informal settings such as museums, botanical gardens, youth development organizations, after-school programs, and different media-based contexts, such as web, television, and radio. The research summaries provided these educators, who often do not have access to published research journals, with information about learning progressions, curriculum design and sequencing, use of new media, building on the cultural resources of children, the nature of scientific argumentation, and education policy. The journals covered included those oriented primarily towards researchers (Science Education, Journal of Research in Science Teaching, Journal of the Learning Sciences, Studies in Science Education, International Journal of Science Education) as well as practitioners (Curator, Science Communication, Journal for Education in Museums, and Afterschool Matters).

Project Website(s)

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Project Products

Team Members

Bronwyn Bevan, Principal Investigator, Exploratorium
Molly Shea, Contributor, Exploratorium


Funding Source: NSF
Funding Program: ISE/AISL
Award Number: 1049817
Funding Amount: 154665


Audience: Educators | Teachers | Museum | ISE Professionals
Discipline: Education and learning science
Resource Type: Project Descriptions
Environment Type: Media and Technology | Professional Development | Conferences | Networks | Professional Development and Workshops | Resource Centers and Networks | Websites | Mobile Apps | Online Media