Collaborative Research: Embedding Public Engagement with Science at Long-Term Ecological Research Sites
As part of its overall strategy to enhance learning in informal environments, the Advancing Informal STEM Learning (AISL) program seeks to advance new approaches to, and evidence-based understanding of, the design and development of STEM learning in informal environments. This includes providing multiple pathways for broadening access to and engagement in STEM learning experiences, advancing innovative research on and assessment of STEM learning in informal environments, and developing understandings of deeper learning by participants. This project will embed public engagement with science (PES) into the cultures and practices of two Long-Term Ecological Research (LTER) sites: the Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest in New Hampshire and the Harvard Forest in Massachusetts. The goals are 1) to build knowledge about the mutual learning between scientists and adult stakeholders in face-to-face engagement setting and 2) to develop evidence-based practices in the content of place-based ecosystem research. This is a collaborative project of 3 universities (Michigan State University, Harvard, and CUNY) and the two LTERs. Two primary research questions guide this work. First, how willing are participating scientists to take part in PES? What are their attitudes and beliefs about whether engagement can be effective and whether they have the necessary skills? Second, how willing are participating scientists to build relationships with stakeholders using normed tactics? Both qualitative and quantitative methods will be used to collect evidence including semi-structured interviews and surveys. A general set of hypothesis include that there will be positive changes in LTER scientists willingness to participate in PES, attitudes, and efficacy beliefs.
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