BOX 1-3

Committee charge

  1. What is the range of theoretical perspectives, assumptions, and outcomes that characterize research on informal science?

  2. What assumptions, epistemologies, or modes of learning science are shared between the formal and informal science education environments? How do informal science understanding and practice vary in diverse communities?

  3. What evidence is there that people who participate in informal science activities learn concepts, ways of thinking, practices, attitudes, and aesthetic appreciation in these settings? What kinds of informal learning environments best support the learning of current scientific issues and concerns (e.g., global warming)? What are the organizational, social, and affective features of effective informal science learning environments vis-à-vis a range of learned competencies/outcomes?

  4. Are some learning outcomes unique to informal environments? For example, is there evidence that informal learning environments support the learning of populations who have been poorly served by school science?

  5. What is known about the cumulative effects of science learning across time and contexts? How do learners (young, middle-aged, adolescent, older adults) utilize informal science learning opportunities? How do these opportunities influence learners? Are informal learning experiences designed to suit the developmental trajectories of individuals?

  6. What information is needed by practitioners in the field? What information is needed by academics seeking to build and enlarge relevant areas of advanced or graduate study? What information is needed by policy makers to affect policies that include informal environments within the scope of education-directed legislation?

  7. What are promising directions for future research? Can common frameworks that link the diverse literatures be developed? If so, what would they look like?

projects and programs devoted to informal science learning have been the subject of formal evaluations, often conducted in rigorous and informative ways. When appropriate, and with sufficient detail to demonstrate the evidentiary value of the material, we have drawn on this evaluation literature.

At the first meeting, the committee discussed the charge with representa-

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