Skip to main content
Beginning this fall, a new team will be leading the Informal STEM Learning Equity Resource Center for the NSF AISL program. Read more here!

Integrate Research Into Practice

There are many different ways to use research – strategic, instrumental, conceptual, and imposed, to name a few. The purposes for using research will guide how you use it.

Familiarizing Yourself with the Literature

In addition to reading Literature Reviews about particular areas of interest to you, consider forming a reading circle with some of your colleagues to read and discuss Research Briefs. Reading summaries and briefs can help you to identify scholars whose research is relevant to your work.

Year in ISE and Knowledge Base

From 2017-2020, CAISE compiled an annual Year in Informal STEM Education report in the form of a slide deck that includes scholarship and research syntheses that were nominated and/or contributed by leaders across the field working in Citizen Science and Public Participation In Scientific Research, Cyberlearning and Gaming, Living Collections, Making and Tinkering, Media, Public Libraries, Public Science Events, Science Centers and Museums, ​Science Communication,Youth and Afterschool, and other settings.

The Knowledge Base is a series of blog articles designed to streamline access to and share evidence about the impacts of informal STEM learning on a range of audiences in a variety of settings. These articles are intended to be evidence-supported claims that can be referenced when developing proposals or "making the case" for a strategy or approach to funders and stakeholders, as well as to see what is known and emerging in the field. 

Partnering with Researchers

Researchers are usually located at universities and research organizations, and sometimes at large informal science education institutions.

It is important  to know, understand and trust your research partner because they often play a major role in how your program is analyzed and represented (in publications and presentations). Some ways to familiarize yourself with potential research partners include:

  • Reading one or two of their most widely-read papers    
  • Attending a conference presentation they are making
  • Inviting her/him/them to observe your program and talk with them about it afterwards

Research-practice partnerships usually include distinct roles relevant to your differing areas of expertise but they can also include joint work to refine the research questions so that they are equally compelling to all parties involved. You can also look at data together to frame the analysis and even co-author articles, papers, and other research products.

There is a strong history of collaborative research in ISE that has led to long-term, mutualistic and productive relationships. There are also guides to developing relationships that can help you to develop a balanced, equitable partnership.

Knowledge is power, and your role in both using and co-producing research-based knowledge can strengthen your professional work, insights, and networks. Visit the Project Planner for more on partnerships.