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Promoting children's agency and communication skills in an informal science program Documents

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Promoting children’s agency and communication skills in an informal science program 

written by Rosemary Wulf, Kathleen Hinko, and Noah D. Finkelstein

The Partnerships for Informal Science Education in the Community (PISEC) program at the University of Colorado Boulder brings together university and community institutions to create an environment where K-12 students join with university educators to engage in inquiry-based scientific practices after school. In our original framing, these after-school activities were developed to reinforce the traditional learning goals of the classroom, including mastering scientific content, skills and processes. Recently, the primary focus of the PISEC curriculum has been shifted towards the development of students' scientific identity, an explicit objective of informal learning environments. The new curriculum offers students more activity choices, affords opportunities for scientific drawings and descriptions, and provides incentive for students to design their own experiments. We have analyzed student science notebooks from both old and new curricula and find that with the redesigned curriculum, students exhibit increased agency and more instances of scientific communication while still demonstrating substantial content learning gains.

Published January 24, 2013
Last Modified July 1, 2013