Relating Research to Practice has identified a limited set of Hot Topics representing pressing issues facing the ISE field. Download synthesis papers or browse research briefs related to these topics.





All research briefs tagged to Relating Formal and Informal Learning
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Wadman, M., deProphetis Driscoll, W. & Kurzawa, E. (2009). Creating communicative scientists. A collaboration between a science center, college, and science industry. Journal of Museum Education, 34(4), 41–54.

In this paper, the authors describe the process and results of an innovative three-partner project that involved students, scientists, and ISE educators in developing resources for a young audience.


Nasir, N. S., & McKinney de Royston, M. (2013). Power, identity, and mathematical practices outside and inside school. Journal for Research in Mathematics Education, 44(1), 264–287.

This article discusses intellectual activities in African American culture that privilege mathematical thinking. The mathematical thinking in these activities is often not valued in the classroom. The authors argue for a shift from a deficit view of the cultural activities of non-dominant groups to an additive perspective that values the cultural wealth of these groups and uses that wealth to support student identity and learning.


Morag, O., & Tal, T. (2012). Assessing learning in the outdoors with the Field Trip in Natural Environments (FiNE) framework. International Journal of Science Education, 34(5), 745–777.

Despite increasing interest in the potential of outdoor learning experiences, limited research has focused on identifying “good” outdoor education practice. In this paper, the authors propose a theoretically based practical framework for assessing field trips in nature parks and other outdoor settings. The framework focuses on four aspects of field trips: preparation, pedagogy, activity, and outcomes.


Fallik, O., Rosenfeld, S., & Eylon, B-S. (2013). School and out-of-school science: A model for bridging the gap. Studies in Science Education, 49(1), 69–91. doi:10.1080/03057267.2013.822166

This paper describes a model developed by education researchers seeking to bridge the gap between formal and informal learning contexts. The model matches organisational, cognitive, affective, and social-environmental aspects of learning with four key design principles to create 16 practical steps to help formal and informal educators communicate and cooperate more effectively.


Tran, N. A. (2011). The relationship between students’ connections to out-of-school experiences and factors associated with science learning. International Journal of Science Education, 33(12), 1625-1651.

How do students make connections between in-school and out-of school contexts? In this study involving the analysis of questionnaire responses of 1014 11th and 12th graders, the author found that out-of-school experiences are positively associated with the learning outcomes of science learning achievement, science interest, and self-efficacy. However, the analysis also showed that connections made by teachers to out-of-school experiences negatively correlated with student achievement.


Nasir, N. S., & Hand, V. (2008). From the court to the classroom: Opportunities for engagement, learning, and identity in basketball and classroom mathematics. Journal of the Learning Sciences, 17(2), 143–179. doi:10.1080/10508400801986108

This article discusses the potential for learner engagement in the contexts of a basketball team and a mathematics classroom. The qualitative analysis centers on three aspects of each context: access to the domain, the integral roles available to learners, and opportunities for self-expression.


Watermeyer, R. (2010). Social network science: pedagogy, dialogue, deliberation. Journal of Science Communication, 9(1), 1–9.

ISE professionals can use this study as a guide to help them in understanding the uses of social networking sites (SNS). The author maintains that SNS provide a space that allows the public to become better acquainted with the work of scientists, stimulating transparency and accountability, and that encourages the public to become active contributors to scientific research and debate.


Brown, B. A., & Kloser, M. (2009). Conceptual continuity and the science of baseball: Using informal science literacy to promote students’ science learning. Cultural Studies of Science Education, 4(4), 875–897.

The formal introduction of learners to scientific phenomena is accompanied by the need to reconcile what they are being taught in classrooms with their informal or pre-existing conceptualizations of the same phenomena. Reconciled formal and informal conceptualizations represent what the authors of this study refer to as “conceptual continuity,” which, they argue, is an important asset for science educators seeking to support students’ conceptual development. In this paper, authors studied the ways in which high-school baseball players expressed their understanding of how curveballs curve using both scientific and everyday language. This study will be of use and interest to ISE educators, who seek to support students’ conceptual continuities across different settings.


Dewitt, J., & Hohenstein, J. (2010). School trips and classroom lessons: An investigation into teacher student talk in two settings. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 47(4), 454-473.

In teacher-student interactions during pre-visit, in-museum, and post–field trip interactions, open-ended styles of questions tended to happen more often during the in-museum part of the field trip, although closed-ended questions were still more frequent overall.


Katz, P., McGinnis, J. R., Hestness, E., Riedinger, K., Marbach-Ad, G., Dai, A. & Pease, R. (2011). Professional identity development of teacher candidates participating in an informal science education internship: A focus on drawing as evidence. International Journal of Science Education, 33(9), 1169–1197.

Previous research studies have found that many new teachers feel inadequately prepared to teach science (cf. Kelly, 2000). This situation may be attributable to a number of factors, although the nature of teacher preparation courses is clearly significant. This research describes a teaching training initiative in which teacher candidates are engaged in internships in an afterschool programme. The findings, comprising the teacher candidates’ drawings and interviews, indicate that the experience positively influenced the participants’ professional identity development as science teachers.




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