Hidi, S., & Renninger, K. A. (2006). The four-phase model of interest development. Educational Psychologist, 41(2), 111–127.
A growing body of research explores the ways that science learning experiences can develop people’s interest in science. In this article, the researchers provide a framework for conceptualizing interest in four phases: triggered situational interest; maintained situational interest; emerging individual interest; and well-developed individual interest. They claim that interest is often conceptualized as a characteristic that a person either has or doesn’t have and that educators could benefit from thinking more about how to stimulate interest. This paper has a review of the literature on interest, as well as an examination of alternative models of interest.
Bathgate, M. E., Schunn, C. D., & Correnti, R. (2014). Children’s motivation toward science across contexts, manner of interaction, and topic. Science Education, 98(2), 189–215. doi:10.1002/sce.21095
Bathgate, Schunn, and Correnti investigate students’ motivation toward science across three dimensions: the context or setting, the way in which students interact with science materials or ideas, and the activity topic. Findings point to the importance of understanding children’s perceptions of specific science topics, not just science in general.
Dancu, T., Gutwill, J. P., & Hido, N. (2011). Using iterative design and evaluation to develop playful learning experiences. Children, Youth and Environments, 21(2), 338–359.
Dancu, Gutwill, and Hido describe a process for designing science museum exhibits to create playful learning experiences. They outline five characteristics of play: It is structured by constraints, active without being stressful, focused on process not outcome, self-directed, and imaginative. For each characteristic, they offer an example of iterative design using formative evaluation.
Zeyer, A., & Wolf, S. (2010). Is there a relationship between brain type, sex and motivation to learn science? International Journal of Science Education, 32(16), 2217–2233.
This study is based upon a body of work that characterizes individuals as primarily empathizers, systemizers, or an equal balance of both. Systemizing describes the ability to understand the world in terms of a system, whereas empathizing is the ability to identify and perceive the mental states of others. In this study, the authors examined whether gender played a role in determining motivation for science learning or whether personality attributes (also known as “brain type”) – that is, whether more a systemizer or an empathizer – were more significant.
Maltese, A., Melki, C., & Weibke, H. (2014). The nature of experiences responsible for the generation and maintenance of interest in STEM. Science Education, 98(6), 937–962. doi:10.1002/sce.21132
Researchers Maltese, Melki, and Wiebke investigated when lasting interest in STEM is sparked and how it is maintained by comparing the remembrances of adults who did and did not persist in STEM. Both groups said that they became interested in STEM early, usually by Grade 6. Those who persisted in STEM were more likely than those who did not to say that they had always been interested in STEM. Parents and teachers were early influences for those who stayed in STEM fields.
Hampden-Thompson, G., & Bennett, J. (2013). Science teaching and learning activities and students’ engagement in science. International Journal of Science Education, 35(8), 1325–1343. doi: 10.1080/09500693.2011.608093
This study uses data from the 2006 PISA survey to examine the association between student engagement in science and the nature of teaching and learning activities. It also explores school and family factors. Key findings are to be expected but also surprising. For example, variety in types of activity is associated with greater engagement. However, smaller classes do not necessarily result in greater enjoyment of science!
Maltese, A V., & Tai, R H. (2010). Eyeballs in the fridge: Sources of early interest in science. International Journal of Science Education, 32(5), 669–685.
Out of 85 scientists and graduate students interviewed, 65% state that their initial interest in science occurred before middle school, particularly for those in physics-related fields. The interest was attributed as self-interest (45%) or intrinsic motivation. However, a large proportion discuss initial experiences related to school- or education-based experiences, including enrichment activities (40%) and family (15%).
Palmer, David H. (2010). Student interest generated during an inquiry skills lesson. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 46(2), 147–165.
A 40-minute inquiry lesson comprising demonstration, proposal, experiment, and report to 224 ninth-grade students organized by the author provided evidence that situational interest can be developed through such activities compared to copying notes from the text and during the lecture. Situational interest, generated by the aspects of a specific situation (e.g., a spectacular demonstration may arouse students’ interest temporarily, even if they are not normally interested in science), is a short-time interest. Although it is a transient occurrence, the author’s previous findings suggest that situational interest, if experienced repeatedly, can have powerful/wide-ranging effects on student motivation. The author identifies sources of situational interest as, for example, learning, choice, novelty, physical activity, social involvement, etc., the strategies that may be especially relevant and accessible in informal learning environments.
Fields, D., & Enyedy, N. (2013). Picking up the mantle of “expert”: Assigned roles, assertion of identity, and peer recognition within a programming class. Mind, Culture, and Activity, 20(2), 113 – 131.
Fields and Enyedy studied how two students who learned computer programming in an OST program leveraged their skills in the classroom to broker positions as experts in the classroom community. Expert identity is reinforced by the interactions among what students do, how they see themselves, and how others see them.
Barron, B., & Bell, P. (in press). Learning environments in and out of school: Catalysts for learning within and across settings. In L. Corno & E. Anderman (Eds.), Handbook of Educational Psychology (Third Edition). New York: Routledge, Taylor, & Francis.
This Barron and Bell article provides a foundational overview for how “cross-setting learning” can equitably engage all youth across formal and informal educational contexts. The paper offers: 1) a review of research; 2) descriptions of supports and challenges to cross-setting learning, including learner interest and identity; and 3) suggestions for research and assessments that capture learning for underrepresented youth.