Collaborative Research: Advancing professional development and broadening participation in informal science learning via the integration of the science and art of color
The intent of this five-year project is to design, deliver, and study professional development for Informal Science Learning (ISL) educators in the arena of equity-focused STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Mathematics) teaching and learning. While the strategy of integrating art and science to promote interest, identity, and other STEM-related learning has grown in recent years, this domain is still nascent with respect to a guiding set of best practices. Through prior work, the team has developed and implemented a set of design principles that incorporate effective practices for broadening participation of girls in science via science-art integration on the topic of the biology, chemistry and optics of "Colors in Nature." The continued initiative would impact the ISL field by providing a mechanism for ISL educators in museums, libraries and after-school programs to adopt and implement these STEAM design principles into their work. The team will lead long-term (12-18 months) professional development activities for ISL educators, including: 1) in-person workshops that leverage their four previously developed kits; 2) online, asynchronous learning activities featuring interactive instructional videos around their STEAM design principles; 3) synchronous sessions to debrief content and foster communities of practice; and 4) guided design work around the development or redesign of STEAM activities. In the first four years of the project, the team will work with four core institutional partners (Sitka Sound Science Center, Sno-Isle Libraries, the Fairbanks North Star Borough School District after-school program, and the Pima County Public Library system) across three states (Alaska, Washington, and Arizona). In the project's later stages, they will disseminate their learning tools to a broad, national audience. This project is funded by the Advancing Informal STEM Learning (AISL) program, which 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.
The project has three main goals: (1) To support ISL educators in offering meaningful STEAM activities, (2) To create institutional change among the partner organizations, and (3) To advance the ISL field with respect to professional development and designing for STEAM Programming. The research questions associated with the professional development activities address the ways in which change occurs and focus on all three levels: individual, institutional, and the ISL field. The methods are qualitative and quantitative, including videotaped observations, pre and post interviews, surveys and analysis of online and offline artifacts. In addition, the project evaluation will assess the implementation of the project's professional development model for effectiveness. Methods will include observations, interviews, surveys and Website analytics and program data.
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