EAGER: Journal to catalyze advances in formal and informal STEM education
The National Science Teachers Association (NSTA), the Association of Science-Technology Centers (ASTC) and their research/evaluation partner, David Heil and Associates (DHA), will conduct front-end research to develop, pilot, and evaluate (formatively and summatively) a peer-reviewed journal and associated multi-media resources designed to catalyze innovative advances and learning across formal and informal science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education communities. The goal is to identify content that is useful and appeals to the intersection of three target audiences: informal educators, formal educators and researchers conducting research at the intersection of in-school and out-of-school learning. This informal science education (ISE) "journal" would be a multi-media resource, available in both print and electronic forms, that could include videos or digital interactives and provide the potential for audience/reader feedback mechanisms, including input via social media. The publication proposed in this project has the potential to satisfy in part a key need identified in a Wellcome Trust study, Analysing the UK Science Education Community: The contribution of informal providers. The study report identifies the need to build an international depository of what has been and is being learned in ISE experiences at the boundary of in-school and out-of-school STEM learning - including syntheses of research, program evaluations, policy reports and illustrative cases studies. The proposed journal will also provide a vehicle to encourage and develop incentives for practitioners to publish results of their work. The project will use surveys, phone interviews and focus groups to conduct: 1) a landscape assessment, identifying what resources are already available to target audiences, how they are used, and what is missing; 2) front-end research with target audiences prior to publication of pilot issues, assessing interests, needs, and expectations and testing early topics, delivery formats, and discussion vehicles; and (3) formative and summative evaluation, assessing how well the (two-issue) pilot and associated social media vehicles foster synergy and satisfy the needs of the identified target audiences.