A Research+Practice Collaboratory (2012-2017)

November 1st, 2012 - October 31st, 2017 | PROJECT

The Exploratorium comes together with the Education Development Center, Inverness Research, TERC, the University of Colorado - Boulder, and the University of Washington to form a Research+Practice (R+P) Collaboratory. The Collaboratory seeks to address and reframe the gap between research and practice in K-12 STEM education. This gap persists despite decades of work by many leading organizations, associations, and individuals. Attempts to close the gap have generally focused on creating resources and mechanisms that first explain or illustrate "what research says" and then invite educators to access and integrate findings into practice. Recently, however, attention has turned to the ways in which the medical sciences are addressing the gap between research and clinical practice through the developing field of "translational research." In medicine, the strategy has been to shift the focus from adoption to adaptation of research into practice. Implicit in the notion of adaptation is a bi-directional process of cultural exchange in which both researchers and practitioners come to understand how the knowledge products of each field can strengthen the professional activities in the other. Along these lines, the R+P Collaboratory is working with leading professional associations and STEM improvement efforts to leverage their existing knowledge and experience and to build sustainable strategies for closing the gap. The R+P Collaboratory is developing an online 'Go-To' Resource Center website that houses the resources collected, created, and curated by the Collaboratory. The Resource Center also has significant 'Take-Out' features, with all materials meta-tagged so that they can be automatically uploaded, reformatted, and integrated into the existing communication and professional development mechanisms (e.g., newsletters, digests, conferences, and websites) of a dozen leading professional associations within a Professional Association Partner Network. In light of new and emerging standards in the STEM disciplines, the Collaboratory is focusing its work on four salient and timely bodies of research: (a) STEM Practices, (b) Formative Assessment, (c) Cyberlearning, and (d) Learning as a Cross-Setting Phenomenon. Special emphasis is being placed on research and practice that focuses on the learning of children and youth from communities historically underrepresented in STEM fields.

Project Website(s)

(no project website provided)

Project Products

Equity in Out-of-School STEM Learning: Professional Development Needs and Strategies
Making as a Strategy for Afterschool STEM Learning: Report from the California Tinkering Afterschool Network Research-Practice Partnership
Enriching and Expanding the Possibilities: Research-Practice Partnerships in Informal Science
Tool: Building Equity in Research Practice Partnerships
Building Capacity for Research-Practice Partnerships: Needs and Strategies
Summative Evaluation of the Research+Practice Collaboratory: Final Report

Team Members

Bronwyn Bevan, Principal Investigator, Exploratorium
Joni Falk, Co-Principal Investigator, TERC Inc
Philip Bell, Co-Principal Investigator, University of Washington
Bill Penuel, Co-Principal Investigator, University of Colorado, Boulder
Pamela Buffington, Co-Principal Investigator, EDC
Barbara Berns, Former Co-Principal Investigator


Funding Source: NSF
Funding Program: ITEST
Award Number: 1238253
Funding Amount: 7346532


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