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.
Bohnert, A., Fredricks, J., and Randall, E. (2010). Capturing unique dimensions of youth organized activity involvement: Theoretical and methodological considerations. Review of Educational Research, 80(4), 576–610.
This study reviews the literature regarding current approaches to measuring participation in organized out-of-school-time (OST) activity settings and their effects on learners. The paper examines learners’ participation in terms of the dimensions of breadth, intensity, duration, and engagement, discussing the theoretical foundations and methodological approaches for each. The researchers note the dialectical nature of each of these dimensions. For example, participation is likely to become more intense (frequent and lengthy) as it endures over time, and as it endures over time it is more likely to intensify. This study provides a comprehensive overview of relevant measurement issues and approaches.
Archer, L., DeWitt, J., Osborne, J., Dillon, J., Willis, B., Wong, B. (2010). “Doing” science versus “being” a scientist: Examining 10/11-year-old schoolchildren’s construction of science through the lens of identity. Science Education, 94(4), 617–639.
Research shows that between ages 10 and 14, children’s interest in science declines sharply. This study investigates 10- and 11-year-old children’s attitudes toward science and relates it to identity, finding that children show a preference for either school (“safe”) science or what they see as grown-up (“dangerous”) science.
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.
Mallya, A., Mensah, F. M., Contento, I. R., Koch, P. A., & Calabrese Barton, A. (2012). Extending science beyond the classroom door: Learning from students’ experiences with the Choice, Control, and Change (C3) curriculum. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 49(2), 244–269.
This paper explores how a school-day science and nutrition curriculum, Choice, Control and Change (C3), shaped student thinking, decision making, and actions outside the classroom. The curriculum taught health science content and engaged students in activities focused on analyzing and changing their personal health choices.
Rosebery, A. S., Ogonowski, M., DiSchino, M., & Warren, B. (2010). "The coat traps all your body heat": Heterogeneity as fundamental to learning. Journal of the Learning Sciences, 19(3), 322–357.
This study makes the case for the ways in which children's everyday experiences are foundational to learning science. The authors argue for the importance of instruction that capitalizes on the diverse experiences and ways of thinking that children bring to the classroom. The article has implications for the design of learning activities in informal settings, where, in the absence of testing pressures, educators might be more free to engage children in "science talk" to support deeper meaning-making.
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.
Baram-Tsabari, A. & Yarden, A. (2009). Identifying meta-clusters of student’s interest in science and their change with age. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 46(9), 999–1022.
If student interest in science is a predictor of careers in science, how can we characterize student interest across ages? Analyzing 6,000 questions from students gathered from informal science settings such as questions submitted to TV shows or Ask-a-Scientist websites, this study classifies student interest in science into six clusters. Younger students (K-9) showed interest in zoology, technology, and astrophysics while older students (10–12) showed interest in physics, chemistry, and biology. This shift of interest to science topics covered in school is relevant to informal science learning as informal spaces have the opportunity to provide advanced and supplementary experiences beyond science in school with the goal of expanding on established interests and also providing learners with opportunities to encounter other ideas and generate new interests.
Wong, B. (2012). Identifying with science: A case study of two 13-year-old “high achieving working class” British Asian girls. International Journal of Science Education, 34(1), 43–65.
This paper presents a case study of two currently high-achieving 13-year-old British Asian schoolgirls: One appears keen to pursue advanced science learning, whilst the other seems more likely to reject such a path. Wong’s discussion offers insight into how young people develop an identity with science—or not. His analysis adds to the literature on why students rapidly lose interest in science on reaching adolescence and secondary school.