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Abstract Title: Rich interactions in an informal learning environment
Abstract: Informal physics learning environments are often highly complex and can vary widely in terms of format, goals, and participants. Effective assessments of informal settings need to align with the rules and norms of the environment in order to accurately reflect students' knowledge and experiences. In the case of informal learning that is exploratory and self-directed, formalized assessments such as concept inventories with multiple choice or Likert-style questions may not be appropriate. Observational data is one means of capturing the dynamics of such informal environments. We have spent the past three years collecting video from afterschool sessions where K-8 children and university students work together on open-ended, hands-on physics activities. In our afterschool program, many independent activities take place simultaneously; to capture a sample of these activities, we have structurally embedded and normalized daily video/audio recording for participants. Based on the recorded interactions between participants, we have developed research questions by applying a socio-cultural lens. We analyze moments of "rich" interaction using an activity theoretic framework and have characterized the pedagogical moves by university student volunteers, the response of K-8 students to these moves and the generation of scientifically creative ideas by K-8 students. These research findings inform our own program design and contribute to the broader understanding of teaching and learning physics in informal environments.
Abstract Type: Symposium Talk
Parallel Session: Building research questions from observational data

Author/Organizer Information

Primary Contact: Katie Hinko