Capitalizing on Informal Learning Opportunities to Enhance Formal Learning in Classroom Environments
Friday, March 30 10:45 AM-11:15 AM Location: Edison A
Presider: Rhonda Christensen, University of North Texas, United States
Abstract: Three middle school sites are compared to assess the measured impact of informal space science education activities on science content knowledge, enthusiasm for an event such as a total solar eclipse, and longer-term dispositions toward space science and a solar eclipse. The space science camp intervention of the treatment group resulted in the greatest overall gains, pre to post, and preserved most of these gains three months later in a follow up assessment. However, analysis of comparison data produced context-enriching findings as well, including that school-based preparation of middle school students for an event such as a solar eclipse, by their teachers, can also produce measureable positive effects. The implications of these findings are that formal learning environments (schools) should seek out opportunities to capitalize on the excitement of informal science events, and integrate these into the traditional school context. The authors propose that the combination could aid in fostering the development of knowledgeable learners at the middle school level with a passion to pursue a focused study path into adult life, enhancing the likelihood of further development into a STEM career.