Informal learning

20/04/2016

Online citizen science projects have demonstrated their usefulness for research, however little is known about the potential benefits for volunteers. We conducted 39 interviews (28 volunteers, 11 researchers) to gain a greater understanding of volunteers' motivations, learning and creativity (MLC). In our MLC model we explain that participating and progressing in a project community provides volunteers with many indirect opportunities for learning and creativity. The more aspects that volunteers are involved in, the more likely they are to sustain their participation in the project. These results have implications for the design and management of online citizen science projects. It is important to provide users with tools to communicate in order to supporting social learning, community building and sharing.

21/01/2016

Success stories of citizen science projects widely demonstrate the value of this open science paradigm and encourage organizations to shift towards new ways of doing research. While benefits for researchers are clear, outcomes for individuals participating in these projects are not easy to assess. The wide spectrum of volunteers collaborating in citizen science projects greatly contributes to the difficulty in the evaluation of the projects' outcomes. Given the strong links between many citizen science projects and education, in this work we present an experience with hundreds of students (aged 15–18) of two different countries who participate in a project on cell biology research — Cell Spotting — as part of their regular classroom activities. Apart from introducing the project and resources involved, we aim to provide an overview of the benefits of integrating citizen science in the context of formal science education and of what teachers and students may obtain from it. In this case, besides helping students to consolidate and apply theoretical concepts included in the school curriculum, some other types of informal learning have also been observed such as the feeling of playing a key role, which contributed to an increase of students' motivation.

15/12/2015

Teaching mathematics in informal settings is a relatively new phenomenon, but it has gained more attention due to the recent changes in the society. The aim of the present quantitative study was to compare the learning outcomes of Latvian and Swedish 12-year-olds when they visited a science centre mathematics-art exhibition originally designed in Estonia. The results showed that in general, prior knowledge of the exhibition contents was the strongest predictor of post-test results in both countries but that mathematical thinking skills and self-concept had a small added value in explaining the post-test results. The results of the study give some of the first pieces of evidence of the effectiveness of out-of-school mathematics teaching in a science exhibition context, providing a good basis for further studies.

29/09/2015

Whilst welcoming Jensen’s response to our original paper, we suggest that our main argument may have been missed. We agree that there are many methods for conducting impact assessments in informal settings. However, the capacity to use such tools is beyond the scope of many practitioners with limited budgets, time, and appropriate expertise to interpret findings.
More particularly, we reiterate the importance of challenging the prevailing policy discourse in which longitudinal impact studies are regarded as the ‘gold standard’, and instead call for a new discourse that acknowledges what is feasible and useful in informal sector evaluation practice.

Pages

Subscribe to Informal learning