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Learning Science in Informal Environments: People, Places, and Pursuits
ply what they learned in the classroom. Toward the end of the program, the interns worked with the students on producing products that will benefit the urban riverbed habitat.
When evaluating Service at Salado, the evaluators used the participatory goals of the program—the specific things participants would do as opposed to what they would know—to frame their evaluation (Saltz et al., 2004). Outcomes included students being able to implement a scientific protocol and write up, present, and defend their results, as well as showing awareness of urban ecology issues. The program evaluators used an observation inventory and focus group responses to measure student use of scientific protocols and technology, and they used an observation protocol to assess teamwork and leadership. A short-answer pre-post survey was used to gauge student interest in postsecondary education and careers, and a Likert scale pre-post survey was used to assess civic responsibility. On the basis of these measures, participation was associated with increases in participants use of scientific protocols and technologies, improved teamwork and leadership, greater interest in careers in which they could help people or animals, and a better understanding of civic responsibilities. However, no comparison group was used, so causal claims about the impact of the experience are not supportable.
Strand 6: Identifying with the Scientific Enterprise
We came across little use of the construct “identity” in research and evaluation of out-of school science programs. However, a number of studies examine a suite of outcome measures that collectively may point to identity development. For example, several studies show that science programs, when deeply embedded in community issues and attuned to students’ cultural backgrounds, can support development of strong science interest that is sustained long after participation, particularly among minority and low-income students or students living in disadvantaged communities (Au, 1980; Davidson, 1999; Erickson and Mohatt, 1982; Zacharia and Calabrese Barton, 2003).
There is also attention to creating spaces that are conducive to interweaving science with one’s own identity. Moje, Collazo, Carillo, and Marx (2001), documenting the clash between competing school and community discourses in a science classroom, argue for the necessity of constructing a “third space” for science learning that bridges the classroom and the community (see discussion of third spaces in Chapters 2 and 4). “In many ways, the construction of congruent third spaces in classrooms requires the deconstruction of boundaries between classroom and community, especially for students who are often at the margins of mainstream classroom life” (p. 492). Moje and colleagues recommend bringing together students’ home lives and school lives by creating spaces in which students’ everyday discourses are intentionally brought into the classroom to enhance scientific learning, instead