A View Through Another Window: Free-Choice Science Learning and Generation R

  • Lynn D. Dierking
Part of the Contemporary Trends and Issues in Science Education book series (CTISE, volume 41)


From the growth of the Internet to the proliferation of educational programming offered by IMAX, educational television, museums, and the Web, there are more opportunities for self-directed, free-choice learning than ever before, much of it science and health related. People engage in such learning every day, tapping into a vast science learning infrastructure available 7 days a week, 24 × 7, across a life span. These opportunities are important, in fact, essential ways that people learn. Even more critical, these modes of learning allow individuals to contextualize their science knowledge, interest, and understanding throughout their lifetimes. In doing so, it is hoped that they become science-informed citizens, perhaps even engaged science participants. While access to and opportunities for education in general (and science education in particular) have been increasing, across both setting and life span, educational reform rhetoric, either implicitly or explicitly, continues to focus on the failure of US school-aged children to excel at mathematics and science in international comparisons. Likewise, solutions center on improving K-12 schooling and science teaching. If as Gen R science educators we want to help envision an effective and comprehensive whole life science education system, we must recognize and support the various places and ways in which people of all ages and backgrounds learn and engage in science across their lifetime—in school, certainly, but also at work, in the home, and in everyday life. To do this well, we must understand how to more effectively connect science learning opportunities across settings and the life span. If we understand the connections and interrelationships within this science learning web, we should be able to build a system that better leverages and contributes to lifelong science engagement and learning. This chapter focuses on the critical role free-choice science learning plays in science education as a different but equally essential component of a lifelong, whole life science learning system. It discusses the need for an education and research infrastructure to support this vital educational sector and the educators who work within it.


Science Education Science Learning Science Education Research Educational Sector National Science Teacher Association 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.College of EducationOregon State UniversityCorvallisUSA

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