Journal of Science Education and Technology

, Volume 25, Issue 5, pp 731–746 | Cite as

Seeking Shared Practice: A Juxtaposition of the Attributes and Activities of Organized Fossil Groups with Those of Professional Paleontology

  • Kent J. CrippenEmail author
  • Shari Ellis
  • Betty A. Dunckel
  • Austin J.W. Hendy
  • Bruce J. MacFadden


This study sought to define the attributes and practices of organized fossil groups (e.g., clubs, paleontological societies) as amateur paleontologists, as well as those of professional paleontologists, and explore the potential for these two groups to work collaboratively as a formalized community. Such an investigation is necessary to develop design principles for an online environment that supports this community and encourages communication and shared practice among individuals with different backgrounds in paleontology and who are geographically isolated. A national survey of fossil group representatives and professional paleontologists was used to address the research questions. The results provide a rich description of the attributes and activities of both groups and are discussed in terms of three design principles for supporting the two groups in a form of collaboration and fellowship via a coherent shared practice within an online learning community.


Community of practice Design Fossil Informal education Formal–informal links Paleontology Public engagement 



This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. (DRL-1322725). Any opinions, findings and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation. We thank the survey participants for their responses; this protocol was approved by UF IRB 12U1052.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kent J. Crippen
    • 1
    Email author
  • Shari Ellis
    • 2
  • Betty A. Dunckel
    • 2
  • Austin J.W. Hendy
    • 3
  • Bruce J. MacFadden
    • 2
  1. 1.School of Teaching and LearningUniversity of FloridaGainesvilleUSA
  2. 2.Florida Museum of Natural HistoryGainesvilleUSA
  3. 3.Natural History Museum of Los Angeles CountyLos AngelesUSA

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