What Does Informal STEM Education and Science Communication Research Tell Us?

As in all scientific endeavors, research-based knowledge is both tentative and cumulative. One study is not sufficient. The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine (NASEM) and the National Research Council (NRC) in the United States have published a series of reports that synthesize research-based evidence on informal STEM learning and science communication. Particular strands of research can be found by accessing academic databases such as EBSCO and reading literature reviews found in the InformalScience.org collection.

Key takeaways from the consensus report Identifying and Supporting Productive STEM Programs in Out of School Settings (NRC, 2015) were that productive out-of-school time programs:

  • Provide intellectually and socio-emotionally rich first-hand experiences with STEM
  • Leverage audience interests, experiences, and cultural resources
  • Make explicit connections across settings

Key takeaways from the consensus report Communicating Science Effectively: A Research Agenda (NASEM, 2017) include:

  • The most effective approach for communicating science will depend on the communicator's goal
  • Empirical evidence can improve science communication practice
  • The field needs to move beyond the “deficit model” of communication

Key takeaways from the consensus report Science Literacy: Concepts, Contexts and Consequences (NASEM, 2016) include:

  • Current research does not support the claim that increasing science literacy will lead to appreciably greater support for science
  • While science literacy has historically focused on individual competence, communities can also develop and use science literacy, leveraging the varying knowledge and skills possessed by different individuals to achieve their collective goals. 

Other Key Reports from The National Academies and the National Research Council*

*All of the NASEM and NRC reports cited or listed above are available as free pdf downloads from the National Academies Press

Access Peer Reviewed Research Literature

EBSCO is one of many academic databases that has a large number of peer-reviewed papers related to key ISE issues. Logged-in members of InformalScience.org can access EBSCO’s Education Source and Communication & Mass Media Complete databases for free.

Browse Informal STEM Learning and Science Communication Research

Through CAISE, the communities have many ways to communicate research findings to one another. You can browse all research and reference materials here or explore the following subsets of resources: