Despite an increased recognition of the role that ‘informal’ learning spaces (e.g. museums, aquariums, other cultural institutions) have in children’s science education (NRC, 2015), there remains a gap between the goals and values of ‘informal’ and ‘formal’ (i.e. school-based) learning sectors. Moreover, the potential for informal spaces and institutions to also play a role in initial teacher preparation is only beginning to be realized. Here, we present our Science Teacher Learning Ecosystem model and explain how it frames the design of our elementary science teacher education coursework. We then use this framework to describe learning experiences that are collaboratively planned and implemented with two local museums. These course sessions engage teacher candidates as science learners and develop abilities and mindsets for bridging formal and informal teaching and learning divides. Readers are encouraged to think about their unique context and the out-of-school partners available to collaborate with, be it museums similar to those described here or parks, after-school programs, gardens, etc.
Innovations Journal articles, beyond each issue's featured article, are included with ASTE membership. If your membership is current please login at the upper right.
Birmingham, D., Smetana, L.K., & Coleman, E.R., & Carlson, J. (2015, April). Developing science identities: What role does a teacher preparation program play? Paper presented at the annual meeting of the National Association for Research in Science Teaching, Chicago, IL.
Bransford, J., Brown, A., & Cocking, R. (Eds). 2000. How People Learn: Brain, Mind, Experience and School. Washington D.C.: National Academy Press.
Bronfenbrenner, U. (1977). Toward an experimental ecology of human development. American Psychologist, 32, 513-531.
Duschl, R., Schweingruber, H., & Shouse, A. (2007). Taking Science to School:: Learning and Teaching Science in Grades K-8. Washington, DC: National Academies Press.
Falk , J.H. & Dierking, L.D. (2000). Learning from museums: visitor experiences and the making of meaning. Walnut Creek, CA: AltaMira Press.
Falk, J. H., Storksdieck, M., & Dierking, L. D. (2007). Investigating public science interest and understanding: evidence for the importance of free-choice learning. Public
Understanding of Science, 16, 455–469.
Hollins, E. R. (2011). Teacher preparation for quality teaching. Journal of Teacher Education, 62, 395-407.
National Research Council. (2009). Learning Science in Informal Environments: People, Places, and Pursuits. Committee on Learning Science in Informal Environments. Philip Bell, Bruce Lewenstein, Andrew W. Shouse, and Michael A. Feder, Editors. Board on Science Education, Center for Education. Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.
National Research Council. (2010). Surrounded by Science: Learning Science in Informal Environments. Washington, DC: National Academies Press.
National Research Council. (2015). Identifying and Supporting Productive STEM
Programs in Out-of-School Settings. Committee on Successful Out-of-School STEM Learning. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.
Zeichner, K. (2006). Reflections of a university-based teacher educator on the future of college- and university-based teacher education. Journal of Teacher Education, 57, 326-340.