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Title:From outreach to inreach: Connecting young learners with the world of emerging science
Author(s):Buell, James
Director of Research:Bruce, Bertram C.
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Bruce, Bertram C.
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Greene, Jennifer C.; Hug, Barbara; Thakkar, Umesh
Department / Program:Educational Psychology
Discipline:Educational Psychology
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):science education
leading-edge science projects
educational outreach
genomics education
honey bee biology education
research science meets school science
Abstract:Agencies that fund scientific research have called increasingly in recent years for the projects they support to contribute to broader social and educational impacts. However, the means by which these projects might best utilize their own resources to support educational outcomes for young learners have received relatively little attention. This dissertation explores how a scientific research project developed a summer 2008 science education workshop for high school students, situates the case within a larger context of leading-edge scientific research projects having public education aims, and considers ways in which carefully structured learner-scientist interactions may contribute to young students’ meaningful learning of science. The research questions are: 1. How did scientists and educators in a university research project come to design an intensive educational activity on the topic of their research, for an audience of high school students? 2. What were the distinguishing features of this educational activity? 3. How did the students learn and remember from this experience? The research takes shape as a design-oriented case study, tracing the development of the education initiative from its beginnings through its impact on learners. The first research question is explored through the technique of “design narrative” (Barab et al., 2008), to trace the development of ideas that culminated in the workshop curriculum through a series of six design episodes that occurred over a four-year span. The second question is investigated through qualitative analysis of workshop documents and post-workshop interviews with organizers and learners, and through comparison of the workshop curriculum with various sorts of “research-science-meets-school-science” (RSMSS) outreach that have been reported in recent science education literature. The third question is explored through analysis of the workshop’s memorability, as evidenced by comments made by learners in interviews four months after the workshop. Findings relating to the first question indicate that tensions and contradictions between the project’s primary research role and its secondary educational aims were important factors in shaping the curriculum of the 2008 summer education workshop. Investigation of the second question revealed ways in which the 2008 curriculum differed from the various forms of RSMSS outreach previously reported, and led to a conclusion that the form of curriculum exhibited by the workshop merits consideration as “Inreach” rather than outreach. Investigation of the third question revealed that at a distance of four months, learners continued to recall episodic aspects and substantive knowledge from the workshop in detail. Analysis of this set of findings suggests ways in which features of the workshop curriculum enhanced its memorability by students. A separate chapter considers how design features of the 2008 curriculum relate to principles for learning that are drawn from the literature of science education. In the concluding chapter, the study’s findings are considered with regard to how they might strengthen efforts by scientific research projects to develop and deliver forms of educational involvement that are both meaningful for students and supportable within the means of the projects themselves. In addition, consideration is given to ways in which the findings from this research might spur further investigation in subsequent design-based research that overcomes limitations inherent in a single-case study.
Issue Date:2011-05-25
Rights Information:Copyright 2011 James Buell
Date Available in IDEALS:2011-05-25
Date Deposited:2011-05

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