Embedded Assessment of Informal and Afterschool Science Learning

June 1st, 2012 | RESEARCH

Assessing science learning in informal environments involves a series of challenges that are difficult to address using traditional assessment practices (National Research Council, 2009). Some of the assessment challenges inherent in informal and afterschool environments include: (a) interactions in these environments are diverse in terms of duration, type of activity, number of people involved; (b) they usually include emerging behavior due to unpredictable interactions with other participants (e.g., peers, family members, and facilitators); and (c) these environments are characterized by a high degree of freedom and flexibility, which makes it difficult to isolate and measure individual learning. Although traditional measurement instruments have been used to measure learning and engagement in these environments (e.g., self-reports, questionnaires, think-aloud techniques, interviews), these instruments tend to be at odds with the engaging, continuous, and exploratory nature of these environments. This paper describes the potential of employing embedded assessments in the creation of interactive informal learning environments as means of assessing participant learning without disrupting the “flow” experienced by participants (Csikszentmihalyi, 1990).


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Team Members

Diego Zapata-Rievera, Author, Educational Testing Service

Related URLs

Full Text from National Academies


Audience: Educators | Teachers | Evaluators | Museum | ISE Professionals
Discipline: Education and learning science | General STEM
Resource Type: Reference Materials | Report
Environment Type: Exhibitions | Informal | Formal Connections | Media and Technology | Professional Development | Conferences | Networks | Professional Development and Workshops | Public Programs