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Research Brief

The Central Role of Personnel in Informal Physics Programming

October 1, 2022 | Professional Development, Conferences, and Networks, Public Programs

In this paper, we take an in-depth look at the physics faculty and student volunteers, which we will refer to as the program personnel, involved in informal physics programs to better understand their roles and responsibilities, their interactions with audiences, and their connectedness with content and activities. Understanding the complexities between programs, personnel, and audiences allows us to look for areas to improve informal physics programs in being inclusive, in being equitable and accessible, in supporting physics students who participate, and in connecting more strongly to the community and home institution. It is clear from previous studies that university students volunteering in informal physics programs can be impacted by their experience; however, we do not yet know how the ways the experiences are designed and then unfold affect personnel participation. In order to design informal programs that best support undergraduate and graduate students in achieving the desired outcomes, it is necessary to determine what program structures and practices are important to this end. This leads to the following research questions: How can structures shape the participation of physics volunteers in informal physics programs? How can the volunteers influence the content, activities, and audience interactions of these programs?


  • Bryan Stanley
    Michigan State University
  • Dena Izadi
    Michigan State University
  • REVISE logo
    University College Dublin
  • Kathleen Hinko
    Michigan State University
  • Citation


    Funding Program: Advancing Informal STEM Learning (AISL)
    Award Number: 1713060
    Resource Type: Research | Research Products
    Discipline: Education and learning science | Physics
    Audience: Educators/Teachers | Learning Researchers | Undergraduate/Graduate Students
    Environment Type: Professional Development, Conferences, and Networks | Public Programs

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