In informal STEM education, thinking about engagement has evolved from a focus on innovative ways of attracting the initial attention of science center/museum visitors or media consumers to strategies for designing environments and activities that foster deeper experiences such as experimentation, skill development, and contemplation in a variety of settings. In the science communication field, engagement increasingly refers to “two-way” approaches to designing and facilitating interactions between STEM professionals and diverse “publics” that take into account the knowledge and prior experiences of those audiences. Because engagement with STEM topics and activities is linked to the development of other important dimensions of learning and communication, the CAISE Evaluation and Measurement Task Force chose it as a topic to further explore as part of its interview series.
In 2018, we interviewed 12 informal STEM education, science communication, and citizen science professionals who study or develop activities and environments where engagement is an observable, identifiable phenomenon and/or an intended goal of a designed experience. We asked these experts how they conceptualized engagement, how they measured it, and how engagement intersects with other related concepts. Start with the summary of what we heard, "The Role of Engagement in STEM Learning and Science Communication: Reflections on Interviews from the Field," and then delve into the interviews for more perspectives.
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