Advertisement

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

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

Abstract

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.

Keywords

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.

References

  1. Anderson, D. R., Bryant, J., Wilder, A., Santomero, A., Williams, M., & Crawley, A. (2000). Researching Blue’s Clues: Viewing behavior and impact. Media Psychology, 2, 179–194.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Association of Science-Technology Centers. (2010). Science center and museum statistics. Washington, DC: Association of Science-Technology Centers.Google Scholar
  3. Azevedo, F. S. (2004). Serious play: A comparative study of learning and engagement in hobby practices. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, University of California, Berkeley.Google Scholar
  4. Bachman, J. (2011). STEM learning activity among home-educating families. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, Oregon State University, Corvallis.Google Scholar
  5. Ballantyne, R., & Packer, J. (2005). Promoting environmentally sustainable attitudes and behavior through free-choice learning experiences: What is the state of the game? Environmental Education Research, 11(3), 281–296.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Bouffard, S. M., Wimer, C., Caronongan, P., Little, P. M. D., Dearing, E., & Simpkins, S. D. (2006). Demographic differences in patterns of youth out-of-school time activity participation. Journal of Youth Development, 1(1).Google Scholar
  7. Brody, M., Tomkiewicz, W., & Graves, C. (2002). Park visitors’ understanding, values and beliefs related to their experience at Midway Geyser Basin, Yellowstone National Park, USA. International Journal of Science Education, 24(11), 1119–1141.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Brown, J. (2000, March/April). Growing up digital: How the web changes work, education, and the ways people learn. Change, 32(2), 11–20.Google Scholar
  9. Bureau of Labor Statistics, US Department of Labor. (2011a). Occupational outlook handbook (2010–11 ed.). Archivists, Curators, and Museum Technicians. Washington, DC: United States Department of Labor.Google Scholar
  10. Bureau of Labor Statistics, US Department of Labor. (2011b). Occupational outlook handbook (2010–11 ed.). Teachers—Kindergarten, Elementary, Middle, and Secondary. Washington, DC: United States Department of Labor.Google Scholar
  11. Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2012). National Industry-Specific Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates. Washington, DC: United States Department of Labor.Google Scholar
  12. Carnegie Corporation of New York. (2009). The opportunity equation: Transforming mathematics and science education for Citizenship and the Global Economy. www.Opportunityequation.org
  13. Dhingra, K. (2003). Thinking about television science: How students understand the nature of science from different program genres. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 40(2), 234–256.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Dierking, L. D. (2013). Museums and Families: Being of Value. Walnut Creek: Left Coast Press.Google Scholar
  15. Dierking, L. D., & Falk, J. H. (1998). Free-choice learning: An alternative term to informal ­learning? Informal Learning Environments Research Newsletter. Washington, DC: American Educational Research Association.Google Scholar
  16. Dierking, L. D., & Falk, J. H. (2003). Optimizing out-of-school time: The role of free-choice learning. New Directions for Youth Development, 97, 75–89.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Dierking, L. D., & Falk, J. H. (2009). Learning for life: The role of free-choice learning in science education. In K. Tobin & W. M. Roth (Series Eds.) and W. M. Roth & K. Tobin (Vol. Eds.), World of science education: Handbook of research in North America (pp. 179–205). Rotterdam: Sense.Google Scholar
  18. Dierking, L. D., & Martin, L. M. W. (1997). Informal science education [Special issue]. Science Education, 81(6), 663–677.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Dierking, L. D., & Richter, J. (1995). Project ASTRO: Astronomers and teachers as partners. Science Scope, 18(6), 5–9.Google Scholar
  20. Dierking, L. D., Falk, J. H., Rennie, L., Anderson, D., & Ellenbogen, K. (2003). Policy statement of the “Informal Science Education” Ad Hoc Committee. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 40(2), 108–111.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Falk, J. H. (2006). The impact of visit motivation on learning: Using identity as a construct to understand the visitor experience. Curator, 49(2), 151–166.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Falk, J. H., & Dierking, L. D. (Eds.). (1995). Public institutions for personal learning: Establishing a research agenda. Washington, DC: American Association of Museums.Google Scholar
  23. Falk, J. H., & Dierking, L. D. (2002). Lessons without limit: How free-choice learning is transforming education. Walnut Creek: AltaMira Press.Google Scholar
  24. Falk, J. H., & Dierking, L. D. (2010). The 95 % solution: School is not where most Americans learn most of their science. American Scientist, 98, 486–493.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Falk, J. H., Dierking, L. D., & Foutz, S. (Eds.). (2007a). In principle, in practice: Museums as learning institutions. Lanham: AltaMira Press.Google Scholar
  26. Falk, J. H., Dierking, L. D., & Storksdieck, M. (2007b). Investigating public science interest and understanding: Evidence for the importance of free-choice learning. Public Understanding of Science, 16(4), 455–469.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Fisch, S. M. (2004). Children’s learning from educational television: Sesame Street and beyond. Mahwah: Lawrence Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  28. Hall, E. R., Esty, E. T., & Fisch, S. M. (1990). Television and children’s problem-solving behavior: A synopsis of an evaluation of the effects of Square One TV. Journal of Mathematical Behavior, 9, 161–174.Google Scholar
  29. Horrigan, J. (2006). The Internet as a resource for news and information about science. Washington, DC: Pew Internet & American Life Project.Google Scholar
  30. Hsi, S. (2007). Conceptualizing learning from the everyday activities of digital kids. International Journal of Science Education, 29(12), 1509–1529.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. King, K. (2000). Educational television: Let’s explore science. Journal of Science Education and Technology, 9(3), 227–228.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Korpan, C. A., Bisanz, G. L., Bisanz, J., Boehme, C., & Lynch, M. A. (1997). What did you learn outside of school today? Using structured interviews to document home and community activities related to science and technology. Science Education, 81(6), 651–662.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. MacArthur Foundation. (2006). Digital media and learning initiative. http://digitallearning.macfound.org/site/c.enJLKQNlFiG/b.2029199/k.BFC9/Home.htm
  34. Marriner, L. (2010). The promise of social networking. Redwood Shores: Cheskin Research.Google Scholar
  35. Miller, J. D., Augenbraun, E., Schulhof, J., & Kimmel, L. (2006). Adult science learning from local television newscasts. Science Communication, 28(2), 216–242.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. National Academies of Science. (2006). Rising above the gathering storm: Energizing and employing America for a brighter economic future. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.Google Scholar
  37. National Research Council. (2009). Learning science in informal environments: Places, people and pursuits. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.Google Scholar
  38. National Science Board. (2004). Science and engineering indicators: 2004. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office.Google Scholar
  39. Pecora, N., Murray, J. P., & Wartella, E. (Eds.). (2006). Children and television: Fifty years of research. Mahwah: Lawrence Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  40. PISA (Programme for International Student Assessment). (2009). www.pisa.oecd.org/
  41. Potts, R., & Martinez, I. (1994). Television viewing and children’s beliefs about scientists. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, 15(2), 287–300.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Purcell, K. (2011). E-reader ownership doubles in six months: Tablet adoption grows more slowly. Washington, DC: Pew Internet & American Life Project.Google Scholar
  43. Rounds, J. (2004). Strategies for the curiosity-driven museum visitor. Curator, 47, 389–412.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. St. John, M., & Perry, D. (1993). A framework for evaluation and research: Science, infrastructure and relationships. In S. Bicknell & G. Farmelo (Eds.), Museum visitor studies in the 90s (pp. 59–66). London: Science Museum.Google Scholar
  45. Stocklmayer, S., & Gilbert, J. K. (2011). The launch of IJSE (B): Science communication and public engagement. International Journal of Science Education Part B, 1(1), 1–4.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. TIMSS (Trends in International). (2007). http://nces.ed.gov/timss/
  47. U.S. Bureau of the Census. (2010). Statistical abstracts of the United States, 2010. Washington, DC: GPO.Google Scholar
  48. Visser, J. (1999). Learning together in an environment of shared resources: Challenges on the horizon of the year 2020. Contribution to the preparation by UNESCO of the report “UNESCO: Horizon 2020.” http://www.unesco.org/education/educprog/lwf/dl/learning2020.pdf

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.College of EducationOregon State UniversityCorvallisUSA

Personalised recommendations