Practice and Research

Beginning in 2012, the Center for Advancement of Informal Science Education (CAISE) embarked on Practice and Research initiative, in response to increased interest in identifying the grand challenges of informal STEM education and in exploring the possibility of creating a research agenda for the field. The initiative involved  a series of activities that began with conference calls and phone interviews with practitioners and researchers who were working on research agendas or research and practice partnerships. Themes and issues raised on these calls became the discussion threads of a subsequent week-long online forum, which surfaced additional challenges and opportunities for mutually informed practice and research. Further analysis of the content from the calls and forum informed the agendas for two in-person convenings- a mixed gathering of cross-ISE sector practitioners and researchers on January 31 and February 1, 2013 in Washington, DC and a smaller working group meeting at the University of Pittsburgh on April 19 & 20, 2013. The outcome of the first convening was consensus that an overarching research agenda for the informal STEM education field writ large was the wrong grain size and potentially too constraining, but that there was a great need for other structures, mechanisms and spaces where practitioners could come together to inform each other’s work. The second working group convening used categories raised at the first convening to develop a “roadmap” of areas in which research questions with relevance across ISE sectors could fit.

A total of over 250 researchers, practitioners and other stakeholders participated in CAISE’s Practice and Research activities in 2012 & 2013. Documentation and summaries from the conference calls, interviews, forum and two convenings can be found in the sidebar of this page and an archive of a blog post summarizing the January 31 & February 1, 2013 convening can be found here and CAISE’s ongoing tracking of research questions, agendas and gaps can be found here.