Informal STEM Learning: A Roadmap for Research and Practice
The publication of the National Academies of Science consensus study, Learning Science in Informal Environments (2009), was an important marker in the history of informal STEM learning (ISL). With five years hindsight, we pause to reflect how far ISL has come as a field, what we have achieved, and what the future might hold. The impetus to do so came via our participation on a panel at a symposium at the 2014 NARST Meeting in Pittsburgh, PA. Our session was framed by overarching questions about the kind of research currently being conducted in ISL--and for what purpose. Some of the specific questions we considered include: What kind of research would help us better understand learning in informal environments? To better support practice? To illustrate the value of ISL? Is there a need to frame extant research differently, or do we need to collect different kinds of data to address different questions specific to ISL? How should we build connections to the broader field of STEM education so that we get beyond the old, and increasingly less useful, distinctions between in and out-of-school learning?