However, coordination between materials and others (processes and procedures) has not been implemented enough yet, or processes or procedures depend on the staff’s intuition, without a solid manual to maximize the educational potential. Furthermore, as the results of the on-line survey administered to the informal science staff clarified, they do not have a clear vision of education (processes) or operations manuals (procedures). In addition, institutions have not maximized chances for visitor learning and the building of networks connecting knowledge and people are incomplete. Two causes can be mentioned as possible reasons for this inconsistency. One is that museum activities cannot fully meet the visitor’s needs until we know more of the nature of these needs. We also lack evaluations of the extent to which visitors wish to learn science in informal science institutions. Indeed no research has reported a front-end evaluation based on this viewpoint. Some institutions may lack resources (materials, ideas, knowledge, appropriate instructors, and so on) or use them inappropriately, causing inefficiencies in attaining the institution’s goals. A system that enables the staff to develop themselves and to arrange suitable resources within and outside of the institution would allow them to demonstrate their full educational potential. Strategic partnerships might help this, but, as the on-line survey indicates, partnerships with other informal science institution, universities, and industries have not been developed.
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Although the findings are significant, there are limitations of this study. These limitations pertain to the qualitative nature of the research. It is understood that every research method has inherent limitations of its own. For this particular study, my status as an African American conducting the interviews may have influenced the responses provided by the participants who were also African American. To address this limitation, I used a variety of data sources and triangulated the findings across them. Also, the nature of qualitative data means that findings are information rich, but case dependent. The case dependency of the findings eliminates generalizing the findings beyond the context of Jordan Academy and the study participants. Also, the fact that all parents interviewed were females may be a limitation since the African American male parent may offer different perspectives. However, this research highlights African American perspectives that few research studies in informal science education have examined and warrants future investigation in other settings and with more participants.
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This commentary reports on the processes involved in creating and promoting the event and the overall experience of delivering it in two different settings: a) as a stand-alone event and b) as a programmed event at Edinburgh International Science Festival. We begin with a brief introduction to science festivals. Importantly, similar to patterns found across informal science learning, we reflect on their apparent proclivity to overlook older adults. We then outline our event. To close, we reflect on where the event succeeded, how it could have been improved and consider its performance as a vehicle for older adults’ learning. This evaluation is based on our own reflections and systematically collected audience feedback. To support the development of better programmes and experiences, woven into this discussion are a number of recommendations for involving older adults in informal science learning.
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Science Festivals have rapidly expanded in size and number in recent years (Jensen & Buckley, 2012; Riise, 2012). They are increasingly prevalent within the broader spectrum of informal science engagement events internationally. Basi- cally, the term “science festival” covers any public event where science is pre- sented to the public. Initially the festival part referred to these events’ similarity to arts, film, or music festivals but with science as the main content (Riise, 2012). Science festivals tend to differ from activities provided by science museums and centers, due both to their temporary nature and their focus on current scientific research. Festivals usually offer a wide range of potential experiences within the time-limited festival context: visiting audiences have the possibility to attend and participate in debates and discussions presenting a range of view-points, and to have access to a more authentic and in-the-making form of scientific knowledge than the ready-made science that science advocates may wish to display (Jensen & Buckley, 2012). Raising public awareness of science and technology is often the most important reason for organizing an event (Riise, 2012). It has been shown that the visitors value the opportunities the science festival provides to interact with scientific researchers and encounter different types of science en- gagement aimed at adults, children and families. The most significant self-reported impact of attending a science festival is the emergence of an increased interest in and curiosity about new areas of scientific knowledge in a socially stimulating and enjoyable setting (Jensen & Buckley, 2012). Usually, the topics and activities that take place at science festivals are inspired by the most recent technological and scientific discoveries and by environmental problems. There are also many hands-on activities and impressive demonstration experiments.
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To draw conclusions on the effectiveness of the Challenger Learning Center Program, two surveys were created as evaluation tools. The majority of the survey items evaluated student perceptions of their content knowledge and their interest and enthusiasm toward STEM learning. These items were formed and placed into constructs based on literature provided on the evaluation of ISE as well as addressing goals from the six strands framework for ISE (NRC, 2009). Individual items align with strands 1 (sparking and developing interest and excitement), 2 (understanding science content), 4 (reflecting on science), 5 (cooperation and communication), and 6 (identifying with the scientific enterprise) (NRC, 2009). After developing an initial pool of items, seven were chosen for the “day of mission” survey and eight for the “pre-post” survey. Items were then placed into one of the targeted constructs (a) interest and enthusiasm, (b) content knowledge, (c) teamwork, and (d) gender equity in STEM. These constructs align with the NRC framework as well as other literature on evaluation of ISE programs. For example, interest and/or engagement has been recognized as an important and often measured variable in evaluating ISE programs (Rulf Fountain & Jurist Levy, 2010), “despite the inherent bias in such self-report data” (p. 4). Previous attitudinal surveys also have included items measuring interest and enthusiasm in STEM (Gibson & Chase, 2002; Policy Studies Associates Inc., 2012). Understanding and/or content knowledge is a construct proposed by Friedman (2008) and used by others in their evaluations of program impact (Arnold & Bourdeau, 2009; National Assessment of Educational Progress, 1996). Teamwork, our third construct, aligns with strand 5 of the NRC (2009) framework and with the goal of applying important life skills identified by Challenger Learning Centers (2013). Finally, we measured one item related to gender equity as aligned with developing a science identity (strand 6 of the NRC framework). The gender equity item was also included in light of previous research reporting differences across girls and boys in their perceptions about their own competence in science (Kahle & Meece, 1994), and particularly in physical science (Andre, Whigham, Hendrickson, & Chambers, 1999). Cronbach’s alpha scores were calculated to determine the internal reliability for the comprehensive evaluation tool as well as each identified construct (see below for scores).
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The academic discipline or research field to which scientist s belong can affect their communi- cation behaviour in various ways and consequently their use of computer networks for commu- nication. The size of academic disciplines, the possibilities of exploiting research results commer- cially and the locus of critical information differ (Walsh and Bayma 1996b, pp. 689-691). For instance, in the mid 90s in some disciplines a part of the empirical data was moved to on-line databases; this included genetic sequencing in molecular biology and digital space images in astronomy (OECD 1998, pp. 28-29). Research costs, the necessity to collaborate, and the visibility of the work performed by other scientists can vary (Kling and M cKim 2000). There are also differences in communication conventions, e.g. at what time and in what media new findings are announced, what informal communication media are used, and how academic societies deal with previous informal publications (Kling and M cKim 2000). Work is organized differently in different academic disciplines (Whitley 2000); in particular interdependence of work organization – such as the “extent to which a person’s daily tasks depend on the actions of others in the collaboration” (Walsh et al. 2000, p. 1302) – varies. The importance of
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Learning is a lifelong process. This process can take place in a formal educational institution such as a school with certain programs and plans, and it can also occur in informal environments such as museums, zoos, botanical gardens, playgrounds, aqua parks, media, hospitals, cinemas, zoos, etc. In particular, teachers can easily follow whether or not students use scientific processes and try to find solutions to problems by using these processes and students interactively interpret nature and natural phenomena in that process. Science fairs are exhibitions that are open to the public in a festival, where students are invited to visit their own projects. Students develop their research skills, critical thinking skills and positive attitudes toward science during the science fair (Tortop, 2013a). Thus, science fair provides an opportunity for students to showcase their own science research and design projects. By having to present their science projects, students are encouraged to solve their research questions deriving by their own curiosity about the world around them. When visitors come to see these projects in science fair, everyone can acquire some scientific knowledge from science project owners (Şahin & Çelikkanlı, 2014; Türkmen, 2010, 2015). Science fairs can be considered an effective informal science teaching environment. In Turkey, most of the Science fairs are carried out by TÜBİTAK (The Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey) in formal education, because the responsibility of promoting, developing, organizing, and coordinating research and development in education is in TÜBİTAK.
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This article addresses some of the challenges faced when attempting to evaluate the long-term impact of informal science learning interventions. To contribute to the methodological development of informal science learning research, we critically examine Falk and Needham’s (2011) study of the California Science Center’s long-term impact on the Los Angeles population’s understanding, attitude and interest in science. This study has been put forward as a good model of long-term impact evaluation for other researchers and informal science learning institutions to emulate. Moreover, the study’s claims about the Science Center’s positive impacts have been widely cited. This essay highlights the methodological limitations of Falk and Needham’s innovation of using an indicator-based impact measure (a ‘marker’) designed to limit their reliance on self-report data, and points to more valid options for assessing long-term learning or attitudinal impacts. We recommend that future research employ more direct measurements of learning outcomes grounded in established social scientific methodology to evaluate informal science learning impacts.
Reaching more than 30 million people from 2008 through 2015, the NSF-funded Nanoscale Informal Science Education Network (NISE Net) introduced nanotechnology and how it will impact our society to people all across the country. As a national community of researchers and informal science educators dedicated to fostering public awareness, engagement, and understanding of nanoscale science, engineering, and technology, NISE Net has created activities, programs, and exhibits for public audiences that have been implemented in more than 500 institutions, including science museums, schools, science festivals, and more. Resources developed under this activity continue to be available and used broadly. As the program period came to a close in 2015, the community has transitioned to the National Informal STEM Education Network. NISE Net is building on the strong community and knowledge foundation established under the initial program and expanding into new topic areas, including synthetic biology and other emerging technologies.
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While science knowledge and interest were consistent and prominent among the educators teaching at these eight non-formal (Table 2), teaching certifications, formal teaching experience, and even education coursework was not. This could be compared with the growing number of science teachers entering formal classroom settings with a collegiate background in the sciences, but no professional education courses. Holding only science, or content area credentials, such individuals have been entering school rooms to meet the demand for teachers all across the nation (North Carolina Department of Public Instruction, 1998; United States Department of Education, 1998). Although obligated to enter into an alternative program to obtain their teaching license, this new lineage of teachers entering the classroom and beginning teaching without formal education is growing in number (Barnes, Salmon, & Wale, 1989; Holley, 2002). Non-formal educators have not been required to hold or pursue teaching licenses. However, parameters of their job duties gave non-formal
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Sustainability problems tend to be complex – or wicked – in nature (Lazarus, 2008; Rittel & Webber, 1973). They require interdisciplinary collaboration just to understand the nature of the problem, let alone formulate possible solutions. Given the layered, systemic characteristics associated with these challenges, sustainability researchers have called for casting an even broader net to conduct boundary work (Guston, 2001; Star & Griesemer, 1989). To accomplish this, sustainability science must include not only multiple disciplines (Kinzig, 2001) but also multiple sectors and the greater community at large (referred to within the post-normal science literature as an “extended peer review” (Frame & Brown, 2008)). In what follows, we outline why museum-university partnerships are beneficial, beyond their long history of collaboration (Boylan, 1999), and then detail what makes these partnerships particularly impactful for
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In this study, the unpredictable nature of the informal setting also provided unique practice for preservice teachers to be able to adapt and modify lessons. The preservice teachers realized that things do not always go as planned. During Science Circus Days, they were able to practice adapting and creatively modifying their lessons for diverse learners. For example, learners might sometimes struggle to understand concepts presented, technology glitches may occur, and other situations may arise to challenge novice teachers. Having an opportunity to experience dealing with such issues at Science Circus Days provided the preservice teachers with a more personal form of practice that is closely related to real-life experiences. The teaching experience gained in informal settings might also help novice teachers to deal effectively with the challenges they are likely to face in their first year of teaching, including emotionally disturbed students, students with psychological disorders, overactive children, special education students in general education classrooms, and stress management . Four of these five challenges relate to student demographics. That is, the ability to modify teaching according to learners’ diverse needs is an important skill, especially for novice teachers. In particular, preservice teachers usually ‘do not have very clear ideas about what to do with regards to students’ ideas or backgrounds’ . Through teaching in an informal setting, preservice teachers are given the opportunity to work with different types of students. Being able to observe and teach diverse learners prior to the first year of teaching can help alleviate the shock and nervousness that novice teachers feel when they first encounter students with different needs. Moreover, the repetitive teaching required in Science Circus Days also allowed the preservice teachers to learn in a short period of time how to modify their teaching to address diverse learners’ needs spontaneously. These teaching practices provided preservice teachers with solid experience of addressing challenges and obstacles that may enhance preservice teachers’ “staying power”  to endure within challenging contexts in real classrooms in the future.
Though education reform is not new and government officials have implemented mathematics reform programs in public school systems across the United States for nearly four decades, none of these efforts has succeeded in significantly narrowing the achievement gap, closing it or improving substantially the academic disparities that exist between White and Black students and between urban and suburban students, with respect to their mathematics achievement levels (Cook & Ludwig, 1998; Thompson, 2003). Therefore, in January 2002, President George W. Bush signed the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB; U.S. Department of Education, 2001) into law. This act was designed to help to close the persistent achievement gap between White upper- and middle-class public school students, poor children and children of color, through a multifaceted and comprehensive approach. The law promises to (a) achieve excellence through high standards and accountability, (b) make literacy a priority, (c) improve teacher quality, (d) improve mathematics and science instruction, and (e) move students with limited English proficiency to English fluency.
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sociobiology cause surprised even members of Science for the People, and two of its leaders, Jonathan Beckwith and Robert Lange, reported after the conference that they had not actually expected “the extent of the spreading negative reaction to sociobiology” (qtd. in Segerstralle 23). Although much of the conference passed without incident, and must have seemed, at first, anticlimactic to many attendees, one of the later sessions featured Wilson and Gould on the same panel, and the auditorium was packed. Gould had already spoken when Wilson took the stage, but before he could speak almost a dozen people— one of whom was bearing a placard with a swastika drawn on it—rushed the stage shouting, “Racist Wilson you can‟t hide, we charge you with genocide!” While several took over the microphone and denounced sociobiology, others rushed up behind Wilson with a pitcher of water they had grabbed off the table and, dousing Wilson, exclaimed, “Wilson, you are all wet!” As order was restored, Wilson dried himself off and, after receiving a standing ovation from the startled audience, proceeded to give his talk detailing evidence supporting his argument. Ironically, this temporarily made Wilson‟s cause more sympathetic, though it does illustrate how strongly political critics opposing sociobiology felt about their mission to discredit the field.
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Phases of the moon. For this station, the dissertation chair and another science faculty member designed two new models for participants to visualize the relationships of the moon, the earth, and the sun at the same time. The first model was a black box that had a lamp to represent the sun, a Styrofoam ball with a flag marking the U.S. to represent the earth, and a smaller ball representing the moon. One participant held the moon by a skewer stuck through it and kept the face of the moon toward the earth, when revolving the moon around the earth in a counter-clockwise direction. Participants noticed how the lighted part of the moon, as seen from the perspective of a person on earth, seemed to change shape from a thin line, or crescent, to a full moon and turn back to a new moon. They also rotated the earth counter-clockwise on its axis to see day and night.
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development activity, as illustrated through the comments of Anita. Despite noting the workshops as being highly influential on her science teaching practice she was reluctant to engage in hands-on activities with her students as she feared the consequences and the intensive requirement for behaviour management. Behaviour management of disruptive pupils has been identified as one of the main reasons why teachers leave the profession (Kyriacou & Kunc, 2007), so it is not surprising that it was mentioned as a barrier to science teaching by one of the participant teachers. It is more surprising that it was mentioned by only one participant. The success of the workshops was strongly influenced by the participants’ work context, discussed in greater detail in section 6.5. It is important to note that simply including hands-on activities in lessons does not mean that teachers will become effective teachers of science. While constructivism is the “guiding philosophy routinely taught to those aspiring to become teachers in many of our faculties of education” (Carter & Wheldall, 2008:17), the appropriate understanding of the principles of constructivism can occasionally be missed. There is a danger that beginning teachers, and perhaps experienced teachers too, may believe that the use of hands-on activities, without any development of conceptual understanding or scientific inquiry skills, is enough for “meaningful learning” (Talanquer et al., 2009:15). This “naïve” (ibid:15) definition of constructivism is counterproductive to any reforms made in science education. Perera (2010) advocates for constructivist principles in teacher professional development however notes that, in his study, the use of science
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As a measure of outcomes, researchers surveyed preservice teachers’ interest and confidence (Jarrett, 1998:1999), attitudes toward science (Palmer, 2004), motivation to teach science (Watters & Ginns, 2000), self-efficacy (Enochs et al., 1995; Bell, 2001), understanding of the nature of science and science inquiry (Gess-Newsome, 2002; Colburn & Bianchini, 2000; Schwartz et al., 2004), and theoretical understanding of learning cycle (Odom & Settlage, 1996; Settlage, 2000; Marek et al., 2003). Other research examined beliefs regarding the teaching and learning of science by analyzing students’ journals, as well as using a beliefs questionnaire (Reiff, 2002; Hubbard & Abell, 2005). In real research-based methods courses, students’ journals, interviews, unit plans, and portfolios were used as data sources to determine students’ understanding and ability to apply inquiry teaching (van Zee, 1998; Zembal-Saul et al., 2002; Hayes, 2002; Baxter et al., 2005). In a reflection-oriented study, students’ reflections on short inquiry activities and projects (e.g. a month-long moon investigation) were the main data sources (van Zee, 1998; Zembal-Saul et al., 2000). Hayes (2002) and Newman et al., (2004) conducted research on dilemmas and struggles to understand and implement inquiry by analyzing students’ reflective journals on their course experiences, projects, and teaching experiences in field placements.
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In recent years there has been a growing concern that the goal of ‘science education for all’ is not being met and education systems are failing to attract students to STEM. The term ‘crisis’ has recently been used as a cross-sectorial term by governments, industries and educators alike, to describe the diminishing proportion of students in the post-compulsory years who are undertaking science-related studies, particularly in the physical sciences (Australian Government, DEST, 2003; EU, 2004; Jenkins & Nelson, 2005; Masters, 2006; OECD, 2006; Osborne & Collins, 2001; OSTP, 2010; Roy. Soc., 2010; Speering & Rennie, 1996; Tytler, 2007; UNESCO, 2008).
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Correspondingly, the ability to communicate effectively and efficiently to stakeholders with a diversity of scientific and experiential backgrounds is becoming a greater priority. This thesis applies informal learning theory to the communication of scientific information to fisheries stakeholders. In the literature review chapters, I identify the failings of old communication models, and discuss how existing theoretical constructs could inform explorations into improving the effectiveness and efficiency of communicating scientific information to stakeholders with diverse scientific backgrounds. I draw upon psychology and formal and informal education models used to understand the uptake of scientific information in sub-sectors of the public, and identify gaps within the existing literature that preclude the immediate application of existing models to the context of scientific fisheries information and fisheries stakeholders. The first data chapter in this thesis identifies variables influencing the informal learning of scientific fisheries information by fisheries managers, researchers and commercial and recreational fishers. Using semi-structured interviews and content analysis, I confirm that the cognitive, conative and affective dimensions used to describe informal learning in the literature apply to fisheries stakeholders. I also identify two constraints: investments of time, and investments of money. In the second data chapter, I demonstrate the mapping of the relationships between these variables using a Fuzzy Cognitive Mapping (FCM) approach to mental models. I show that by combining the FCM approach with network analysis techniques, it is possible to illustrate the relative importance of each variable, whether it is acting as a driver or a constraint, and how closely the variables relate to one another. I also demonstrate that individuals’ initial levels of interest in a topic significantly influence their willingness to informally learn more about that topic.
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underlying complexity levels and the diagnosis tasks, no sample norms are given to teachers as the IKM was not created for providing social comparison. Actually, it was developed for criteria-guided assessment. IKMs are not only created for science; they already exist for mathematics, English and German. So most teachers already know this tool and some have even used it for competency assessment before. The characteristics of IKMs are the computerized testing and the automatic evaluation of answers. Therefore the advantages are efficiency of time and objective testing. But due to these characteristics, some restrictions also have to be taken into account. For example, only closed task designs, like multiple choice tasks, cloze tests or numbering tasks could be used. This restriction in task design excludes some competences from being part in the IKM, like performing an experiment, and reduces the possibilities for some other competences, like naming or describing natural phenomena or depicting information.
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