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Suggested Citation:"8 Media." National Research Council. 2009. Learning Science in Informal Environments: People, Places, and Pursuits. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12190.
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Below is the uncorrected machine-read text of this chapter, intended to provide our own search engines and external engines with highly rich, chapter-representative searchable text of each book. Because it is UNCORRECTED material, please consider the following text as a useful but insufficient proxy for the authoritative book pages.

248 Media 8 It’s 7:00 pm on a Sunday evening, and you have just returned home from a long day at the local aquarium. Your family saw many exotic fish and read about their behaviors on signs posted near their tanks. You also watched an IMAX® film that showed some of these fish in their natural habitats. Now that you are home and relaxing, your daughter wants to see more fish, so she asks to watch the Disney/Pixar film, Finding Nemo. Afterward, you decide to sit down and watch some television before going to bed. One channel is showing The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, a Hollywood film inspired by the career of Jacques-Yves Cousteau, the great science filmmaker. Meanwhile, upstairs, the long-running news program, 60 Minutes, is on another chan- nel showing a segment on vacationers diving into ocean waters to observe sharks up close and personal, as well as the consequences of invading their territories. This segment intrigues your son, so he goes to the 60 Minutes website to see a long list of people posting their comments on the show’s content in real time. It is unlikely that a family would be able to find this many opportunities to learn about aquatic life on a single day, but that should not downplay the fact that science learning in informal environments is often connected with various forms of media. Television documentaries, entertaining portrayals of science and nature in film, Internet websites, printed news stories, and online communities provide opportunities to communicate science content to individuals. These materials are often accessed voluntarily, making them an important part of science education in informal settings.

Media 249 A CONTEXT AND TOOL FOR SCIENCE LEARNING “Media” can mean many things and take many forms. It can refer to the content of a printed story or a broadcast image. It can refer to the technol- ogy used to convey a particular form of information (e.g., television, news- papers, museum signs). It can be modified to indicate the affordances of a particular medium: “interactive media” or “targeted media” or “mass media.” The field of media studies ranges from critical analyses of the content of particular story forms, through quantitative correlations of content analyses and public opinion, to detailed analyses of eye movements while interacting with websites. Traditional scholarly distinctions between “mass media” and “interpersonal communication” have in recent years been challenged by the need to create new perspectives that account for the interactions among these approaches. In the context of science learning, however, the existing literature re- mains largely tied to older forms of analysis, dividing reasonably well into the traditional categories of “mass media” and “interactive media.” It is also important to acknowledge that media may be used differently across social contexts. For example, a television documentary created for home viewing may also be shown in classrooms, as part of a museum display, or in a com- puter-based learning environment. In order to assess the effects of media on science learning, one must consider the ways in which they are appropriated and used across different informal settings. In this chapter, we begin with summaries based on the traditional catego- rization of mass media. We then move on to suggest ways in which newer modes of analysis might shed light on learning science in informal environ- ments. What tools exist, and how can they be made available to the public? How can individuals and groups access and leverage the knowledge of others through media? How can individuals and groups make their own insights more broadly accessible? We limit our analysis to areas in which research attends to learning outcomes and to issues of emerging or pressing interest in the field (such as new technological tools employed for educational purposes and the pervasive influence of digital technologies in everyday life). PRINT MEDIA Although print media has the longest history, few studies have explored the specific effects of print on science learning. Many studies have identified the content of science books (both popular books and textbooks), magazines, including science specific magazines (such as Popular Science or Scientific American), and newspapers, making claims about the scientific quality and promotional or ideological effects of the content (Bauer, Durant, ­Ragnarsdottir, and Rudolfsdottir, 1995; Bauer, Petkova, Boyadjieva, and Gornev, 2006; Broks, 2006; Burnham, 1987; Dornan, 1989; Hansen and Dickinson, 1992;

250 Learning Science in Informal Environments Haynes, 1994; LaFollette, 1990). Few of these claims, however, have been subjected to empirical testing. Other studies have explored the production of printed media, focusing on the opportunities and constraints that shape their media content (Burnham, 1987; LaFollette, in press; Lewenstein, in press; Nelkin, 1987). Particularly in the area of risk communication (the study and develop- ment of communicating the health implications of particular behaviors) some studies have examined the effects of particular print presentations of scientific information on individual perceptions of risk (Singer and Endreny, 1993; Walters, Wilkins, and Walters, 1989; Weiss and Singer, 1988; Wilkins and Patterson, 1990) In general, these studies have found that media do influence participants’ perception of risk related to events (hazards, natural disasters) that may have immediate consequences for them. However, individuals’ long-term considerations about these issues remain unaffected. This literature has also demonstrated that the social context in which stories are presented (e.g., the overall patterns of news coverage, the degree of trust that exists between readers and governmental or corporate institutions involved in the risk story) are typically more influential on participants’ perceptions of risk than the genre of individual stories (e.g., whether they are sensational or measured and analytic). In recent years, political scientists and other scholars concerned about political communication have tried to correlate public opinion about scien- tific and technological issues with media coverage of such controversies as nuclear power, biotechnology, and nanotechnology (Bauer and Gaskell, 2002; Brossard, Scheufele, Kim, and Lewenstein, 2008; Brossard and Shanahan, 2003; Ten Eyck, 1999, 2005; Ten Eyck and Williment, 2003; Gamson and Modigliani, 1989; Gaskell and Bauer, 2001; Gaskell, Bauer, Durant, and Allum, 1999; Nisbet, Brossard, and Kroepsch, 2003; Priest, 2001; Scheufele and Lewenstein, 2005). Although there is evidence that both demographic and psychological characteristics can influence opinion, and claims have been made about the link between those characteristics and exposure to particular media frames (Nisbet and Goidel, 2007; Nisbet and Huge, 2006), the evidence is not yet sufficiently strong to draw conclusions about the ef- fect of particular print media on either broad public opinion or individuals’ particular knowledge (Strand 2) and attitudes (Strand 6). Particular science books are sometimes said to have had influence on the interests and career choices of later scientists, particularly Paul de Kruif’s 1929 Microbe Hunters and James Watson’s 1968 Double Helix (Lewenstein, in press), but little empirical evidence exists to show the direct effect of books on any of the strands of learning.

Media 251 EDUCATIONAL BROADCAST MEDIA Perhaps the most studied area of learning science through media is the role of broadcasting, particularly television, in education. This literature explores the effects both of ubiquitous broadcast media and of broadcast media specifically intended for educational purposes. Television and radio both offer science-themed programming that is broadcast widely and accessible to almost anyone in the developed world and a majority of people in the developing world. Television is present in over 98 percent of households in the United States, Europe, and develop- ing nations (Clifford, Gunter, and McAleer, 1995; Dowmunt, 1993). It has an enormous influence on many aspects of everyday life and is arguably the single most influential means of communication of modern time (Huston et al., 1992; Kubey and Csikszentmihalyi, 1990). Science radio takes the form of weekly 1-2-hour programs and weekly or brief (90-second) shorts on both pubic and commercial radio, most of which are targeted to an adult audience. Program format ranges from hosted call-in talk shows to documentaries and interviews with scientists. Contemporary radio plays an important role in disseminating science news, addressing health policy objectives (e.g., family planning, disease prevention), and, to a limited extent, conveying science through more purely entertainment-oriented programming. While many educators have concerns about the value of broadcast media, especially television (Gunter and McAleer, 1997; Hartley, 1999), it is clearly one of the most accessible sources of information for literate and illiterate populations. Broadcast media are particularly easy to use for children, youth, and adults. Not surprisingly, television is the primary source in the United States for general information about science and technology (National Sci- ence Board, 2008). Science- and math-based television and radio programs reach some 100 million children and adults each year. Educational science programming on television, once primarily the domain of the Public Broadcasting System (PBS), can now also be found on several Discovery Channels, the National Geographic Channel, The Learning Channel (TLC), NASA TV, and others. Top-rated educational programming currently includes Zoom (WGBH, ages 5 to 11), Cyberchase (WNET, ages 8 to 12), Dragonfly TV (TPT, ages 9 to 12), and PEEP and the Big Wild World (WGBH/TLC and Discovery Kids, pre-K). … Each of these programs also offers ancillary activities on the web, making pbs.org one of the most popular .org sites and informal resources for learning worldwide (Ucko and Ellenbogen, 2008, p. 253). Since the early days of television broadcast science programming such as Watch Mr. Wizard (Ucko and Ellenbogen, 2008), science programming has increased with the U.S. Children’s Television Act of 1990, which required networks to broadcast educational television programming for children (U.S. Congress, 1990). In 1996, the Federal Communications Commission created

252 Learning Science in Informal Environments new rules to enforce the congressional mandate on children’s television (Fed- eral Communications Commission, 1996). These include requiring television stations to air at least three hours per week of core educational programming between the hours of 7:00 am and 10:00 pm, with those programs being regularly scheduled and at least 30 minutes in length. Broadcasters are also required to explicitly signal when core educational programming is on the air through announcements or graphics displayed on the screen. Historically the evidence of impact of the television shows was largely anecdotal (Newsom, 1952). However, there has been a recent increase in evaluative and scholarly studies of science-related television (e.g., Fisch, 2004; Rockman Et Al, 1996). These studies characterize the impact of science television on children, youth, and adults. While the quality and quantity of research have increased, these studies are extremely hard to locate, as they often exist only in sponsors’ and evaluators’ file cabinets. It is also very difficult to determine overarching findings, as most report on individual programs. However, a few careful syntheses have brought together these studies. Rockman Et Al’s synthesis of research on broadcast media, which was prepared to inform this report, observes (2007, p. 16): Much of this material is fugitive literature, and requests to producers and distributors—and even to some researchers—did not always yield a response. For many of our queries, respondents (both producers and researchers) were unsure as to whether their reports were public documents and there- fore able to be shared without permission. Almost all of the reports we obtained were funded by the National Science Foundation. We were not able to obtain research reports on science programming found on com- mercial radio and television. Programming and approaches to research vary somewhat by the age of the intended audience for a given program. Research on programming for children and youth has typically considered the effects of watching 10 to 40 episodes of a given program, asking participants to respond to ques- tions about the specific science content presented in the program (Strand 2). Evaluations of adult science programs are less extensive, and their designs reflect a basic difference in the structure of the programs. Unlike children’s programming, which typically establishes a conceptual or topical theme across multiple episodes (e.g., problem-solving strategies, the principle of mechanical advantage), adult science education programming generally presents single topics in a given episode of television or radio that are not referenced in subsequent episodes. Studies of adult learning typically use surveys and questionnaires that prompt learners to self-assess knowledge gains (Strand 2) related to particular programs or to recall specific informa- tion from a program itself (Rockman Et Al, 2007). There is some evidence that participants develop knowledge of science through television and radio programming; however, it is focused ­primarily

Media 253 on children. Several popular programs for children and youth, including 3-2-1 Contact, Bill Nye the Science Guy, The Magic School Bus, and Cro, have been shown to positively influence viewers’ knowledge of science (Strand 2) ( ­ Rockman Et Al, 1996; Fisch, 2007). Evaluations of adult programs have docu- mented participants’ self-reported knowledge gains and self-­reported influence on subsequent behavior. For example, a series of evaluations were conducted by Flagg (2000, 2005b) on two National Public Radio science programs: ­Science Friday, a call-in show, and Earth & Sky, a series of 90-second shorts. Listeners reported that they learned about science and scientific methods (Strands 3 and 4), sought out more information, and also spoke with peers about what they heard on the program. The studies of adults hint at science learning outcomes. However, as we have observed in other areas, there is no clear documentation or measurement of what participants learned, nor have the self-reports been triangulated with other measures. Considerably less attention has been devoted to practices or the ways in which learners act in the world to advance their understanding of science. Studies of the Magic School Bus, for example, have examined children’s recall of how characters in the program learn. Evaluations of Bill Nye the Science Guy and Square One TV have looked at how viewers themselves use science and mathematical processes. A quasi-experimental study of the impact of Bill Nye the Science Guy found that viewers made more observations and more sophisticated classifications than nonviewers (Rockman Et Al, 1996). In this study, assessment materials (pre and post) were collected from a total of 1,350 children in schools, approximately 800 among the viewing group and 550 in comparison classrooms. The participants were recruited from three urban regions: Sacramento, Philadelphia, and Indianapolis. Results from the pre- and post-assessments showed that students who viewed the show were able to provide more complete and more complex explanations of scientific concepts than they were before viewing. Furthermore, in hands-on assessments, students who viewed the program regularly were better able to generate explanations and extensions of scientific ideas (Strand 2). Several evaluations have examined the impact of radio programs on behavior, in which radio has been the mechanism for communicating public health messages in rural and developing areas. Public health-oriented radio programming typically takes the form of “entertainment-education,” integrat- ing desired health messages (e.g., about water quality, safe sex) into ongoing soap opera-like dramas, shorts, or songs about family planning and safe sex. A group of studies show the wide reach of health radio programming, as well as a connection between the programs and family planning and other health behaviors (Kane et al., 1998; Piotrow et al., 1990; Piotrow, Kincaid, Rimon, and Rinehart, 1997; Singhal and Rogers, 1989, 1999; Valente et al., 1994, 1997; Valente, Poppe, and Merritt, 1996; Valente and Saba, 1998). However, Sherry (1997) urges caution in interpreting these results. Sherry’s review of 17 entertainment-education studies from 8 developing

254 Learning Science in Informal Environments countries found that the evidence supporting the impact of these programs was problematic. The research was based exclusively on high inferential self-reports of impact. It is also hampered by study design issues, including self-selected samples. More recent studies implementing quasi-experimental designs clearly show that health policy-oriented radio programming has a wide reach and supports the impact of programs on family planning behav- iors (Kane et al., 1998; Karlyn, 2001). However, the programs did not always reach the target audience. Furthermore, there is no indication that behavior changes are linked to increased knowledge of scientific concepts (Strand 2) or scientific reasoning (Strand 3). They seem to be linked to knowledge of the practical and social implication of contraceptive use and attitudes about the health, financial, and social impacts of unplanned pregnancy. Broadcast science education programs have also shown mixed results in promoting interest in science (Strand 1). Fisch (2004) observed that studies of science television’s influence on children’s interest in science indicate a moderate-sized effect and the Rockman Et Al (1996) study of Bill Nye the Science Guy corroborates this finding. However, Rockman Et Al also suggests that this is a likely underestimate and that a ceiling effect may be to blame for lower than expected posttest scores. Rockman and colleagues observed that their participants, children ages 8-10, already expressed an extremely high level of interest in science, so a pre-post study design may have made it difficult to detect significant changes. Similarly, studies focusing on the effects of educational science program- ming on gender stereotypes have demonstrated some effect on attitudes (Steinke, 1997, 1999, 2005; Steinke and Long, 1996). However, the study designs precluded identifying long-term effects. Several studies have found correlations between television and radio viewers’ and listeners’ interest in science (Strand 1) and frequency of listen- ing to or viewing science programs. For example, evaluation findings for the short-format science radio series Earth & Sky reported that program ap- peal and engagement were highest among regular listeners. Similar results were found in the evaluation for Science Friday; frequency of listening was found to be higher among those with higher interest in science and also with enjoyment of the program. However, these are correlations and do not suggest an impact of the program. Whether more frequent listening is the by-product of engagement and enjoyment or vice versa is not explored in any of the studies reviewed. Fisch and colleagues (Fisch, 2004; Fisch et al., 1997) have looked deeper at the organization of programs to discern how presentation of content var- ies across programs. Fisch (2004) describes differences between educational content (the underlying concepts and messages that a program conveys) and the story line (the interactions between events, characters, and their goals) in telling a coherent story. The interplay of these aspects of educational television may have implications for what viewers learn. Take, for example,

Media 255 an episode of Bill Nye the Science Guy focused on environmental issues related to plants and trees. The science educational content includes how to estimate the age of a tree and concerns related to logging. The story line used to present these topics varied from Bill Nye illustrating a tree trunk and counting its rings to stories from loggers explaining their work. Storyline content, that is the story that presents educational concepts, methods, and messages, can be decomposed into two broad categories— documentary and narrative formats. Fisch et al. (1997) compared the narrative style of Cro with the documentary style of 3-2-1 Contact. They found that, in the narrative format, scientific explanations were broken up and spread among multiple characters in contrast to the more didactic approach of the documentary format. In the narrative format, content was also constrained by the need to fit the setting (e.g., the Ice Age). There are probably learning trade-offs associated with organizing science programming in either a docu- mentary or a narrative fashion. While a documentary format allows for direct explanation of scientific phenomena, a narrative format allows the freedom to break from historical or journalistic commitments. Fisch makes this point by comparing 3-2-1 Contact, an educational program for young adolescents that typically employs a documentary approach, with Cro (pp. 108-109): Where fairly straightforward demonstrations and explanations could be fit into 3-2-1 Contact simply by having characters address the audience or host/interviewers directly, these had to be fit into a fictional narrative in Cro, and the fit had to seem natural. Characters in Cro could not suddenly break the “fourth wall” and interrupt the ongoing story to give a lengthy explanation to viewers; rather, such explanations needed to occur in the course of conversation among characters. To seem natural, this often meant that explanations had to be broken up and spread over the course of the story, rather than taking place in a single, lengthy speech. For example, the topic of light and refraction was approached in 3-2-1 Contact through demonstrations of the effects of different-shaped lenses (with a teenage host speaking directly to camera) and a visit to a lighthouse to learn how beams of light are focused to be visible at greater distances. By contrast, Cro approached light and reflection through a story in which the prehistoric characters discovered some shiny, reflective rocks that they dubbed “see-myselfers” (i.e., natural mirrors). Another pocket of research attends to the effects of coparticipation in broadcast media (e.g., watching or listening to programming with others). A series of studies examined the influence of children coviewing educational television with parents and peers and compared their outcomes with those of children who viewed programming alone. These studies suggest that the participation of others in consumption of broadcast media may enhance learning (e.g., Fisch, 2004; Haefner and Wartella, 1987; Reiser, Tessmer, and Phelps, 1984; Reiser, Williamson, and Suzuki, 1988; Salomon, 1977).

256 Learning Science in Informal Environments Reiser and colleagues (1984) conducted a randomized experimental study of adult-facilitated viewing sessions of Sesame Street with 23 white, middle- class children ages 3 and 4. In the experimental group, adults intervened to ask children to name the letters and numbers depicted on the screen. Three days after viewing the program, these children were better able to name the letters and numbers. These findings—although the outcomes are neither science-specific nor particularly complex—suggest that lightly facilitated adult coviewing can support learning. Haefner and Wartella (1987) conducted a randomized experiment to examine the influence of siblings on 42 first- and second-grade children viewing educational programming. In this study, older siblings were 0-6 years older than their siblings. The older siblings were asked to actively explain important plot elements to their younger siblings while coviewing. The researchers found that coviewing did result in some older sibling “teach- ing.” However, the teaching rarely focused on critical events and did not facilitate children’s interpretation of either child-oriented or adult-oriented programs. In part, this is explained by the kinds of questions that younger siblings asked—typically requests for simple clarifications or elaborations of nonessential events. They also observed that many of the older siblings’ comments were not efforts to promote learning, thus limiting the potential effects. However, the researchers observed that nonexplicit teaching by large-interval older siblings was conducive to understanding. Through these actions, which included laughter and comments, “older children did influ- ence the younger children’s general evaluations of the program characters” (Haefner and Wartella, 1987, p. 165). Findings on coviewing resonate with research reported earlier on family learning in science centers (Callanan, Jipson, and Soennichsen, 2002; Callanan and Jipson, 2001; Crowley and Callanan, 1998; Gleason and Schauble, 2000). Children can access science media programming alone—whether television programming or an interactive science center exhibit—and adult interac- tion and possibly sibling and peer interactions can enrich and extend their experience and learning. In summary, the literature on science learning from broadcast media is limited but converges on several important insights. First, when children watch science-themed educational television programs regularly, they can make important gains in conceptual understanding (Strand 2) and in their understanding of science processes (Strand 4) (Fisch, 2006; Rockman Et Al, 1996). We should also note, however, that the research relies heavily on conscripted participation. How children choose to navigate science television programming and whether their naturalistic forms of participation result in similar gains are not yet understood. The committee found little inquiry into adult learning outcomes. The evidence of the impact of interaction with other people on learn- ing gains is promising (e.g., Fisch, 2004; Haefner and Wartella, 1987; Reiser

Media 257 et al., 1984, 1988; Salomon, 1977), but it seems to have had little influence on subsequent research. Additional analysis of the watching and listening practices of groups and social networks may offer useful insights into pro- gramming features. POPULAR FILM AND TELEVISION Most of the broadcast media discussed thus far are deliberately designed for science education. However, science and scientists also appear in popular television programs, films, and other entertainment media. Representations of science in the popular media have rarely been studied in the context of learning, yet it seems obvious that most Americans are more familiar with fictional scientists like Dr. Frankenstein or the medical staff of ER than recent Nobel laureates (Gerbner, 1987; Weingart and Pansegrau, 2003). As in the case of print media, most studies have focused on the production and con- tent of entertainment films and television (Kirby, 2003a, 2003b). In general, these studies have found no single dominant image of scientists ranging from bumbling buffoons and nerdy social misfits to evil geniuses and high-minded saviors of humanity (Hendershot, 1997; Jones, 1997, 2001; Kirshner, 2001; Sobchak, 2004; Vieth, 2001). Popular films are occasionally used in formal educational settings to illustrate scientific and mathematical concepts (Strand 2). In these cases, educators rely on familiar movies to provide context and motivation for problem solving (Strand 1). For example, the Cognition and Technology Group at Vanderbilt (CTGV) used the opening 12 minutes of Raiders of the Lost Ark to engage students in mathematics learning (Bransford, Franks, Vye, and Sherwood, 1989). In that scene, the main character, Indiana Jones, is in a jungle trying to retrieve a valuable statue. Students watched the scene and were asked to plan a return trip to the jungle to look for artifacts that Indiana had left behind. They used approximate measurements from the film (e.g., Indiana Jones’ height) to make calculations (e.g., the relative width of a pit that needed to be crossed) about the return trip. Although the film lacks explicit instructional sequences, mathematical data could be drawn from it to provide students with problem-solving opportunities. Popular films have also been used to complement science education and support student understanding of scientific concepts (Strand 2). The University of Central Florida’s Physics in Film course is designed to give nonscience undergraduate students an engaging introduction to the physical sciences (Efthimiou and Llewellyn, 2006, 2007). For example, one scene from the film Armageddon involves using a nuclear bomb to split an asteroid into two pieces, hence saving the planet from destruction. The scene is used to introduce such concepts as mass, conservation of momentum, energy, and deflection. In the end, students work through the physics to discover that the film’s outcome, two smaller asteroids being deflected away from Earth, is

258 Learning Science in Informal Environments physically impossible. Instead, they learn that the two smaller pieces would strike the planet’s surface a few city blocks apart (Efthimiou and Llewellyn, 2006). An important part of the Physics in Film curricula is helping learners see that science on the big screen does not necessarily correspond to the laws of physics. The same approach has been used in biology and in other fields (Rose, 2003). Many television dramas are also based on scientific concepts, especially medicine (Turow, 1989; Turow and Gans, 2002). Criminal programs like Numb3rs and Crime Scene Investigation (CSI) have received recent attention due to their influence on public perceptions of science. In fact, the term “CSI effect” has been used to describe two different phenomena that result from viewing popular science programming. In one case, the forensic science aspects of shows like CSI are believed to result in jurors increasing their demand for physical evidence in court trials, since this is what they see in fictional television labs (Houck, 2006). For example, district attorneys suggest that jurors now expect advanced technology to be involved in all court proceedings and that DNA testing is required as evidence. There are alarming examples of court cases being dismissed because jurors lack DNA and other physical evidence that ap- pears prominently on CSI and related programs. In one case, jurors fought for DNA evidence despite the defendant’s admission of being at the crime scene (Houck, 2006). This version of the CSI effect demonstrates how viewers may not under- stand differences between fictional accounts of science and the realities of practice. It also demonstrates the power of entertainment media to teach viewers what it means to do science, as these programs seem to increase expectations of what occurs in court trials. While CSI may occasionally lead to misconceptions about real science, it has also led to positive outcomes in terms of viewers’ awareness of and interest (Strand 1) in forensics (Podlas, 2006). The second interpretation of the CSI effect focuses on representations of scientists. Jones and Bangert (2006) asked a convenience sample of 388 ethnically diverse middle school students to participate in a version of the Draw-A-Scientist Test (DAST, Chambers, 1983) to understand children’s beliefs about scientists. Their results showed seventh grade girls drawing a larger percentage of female scientists than their ninth and eleventh grade female counterparts. Additional interviews with a sample of female and male students found seventh grade girls mentioning CSI, Killer Instinct, and other programs that made forensics look “fun” while including male and female characters as scientific contributors. Although the research design precludes a conclusive finding, the authors propose that middle school girls may have different mental images of scientists than their older counterparts due to their exposure to new programming, like CSI. Unlike many television programs in the past, these shows do not characterize scientists as odd, eccentric people wearing lab coats (e.g., Gerbner, 1987), and they portray women in

Media 259 key scientific roles—portrayals that students, especially young women, are more likely to identify with (Strand 6). Both versions of the CSI effect may be behind the large growth in forensic science programs in higher education (Houck, 2006; Jones and Bangert, 2006). It appears that exposure to these programs may help middle and high school students become interested in science as a career (Strand 6). In some cases, student interests have driven universities to create forensic science majors to meet growing demands (Houck, 2006). While CSI and related shows deal with forensics, other programs with science-related content (e.g., hospital dramas like ER and Grey’s Anatomy) may also influence attitudes toward and perceptions of science and scientific practice (Strand 4). The research base around popular media as a tool for science learning in informal environments is limited; further studies are needed to understand the role of television and film on viewers’ knowledge and attitudes. GIANT SCREEN FILM AND OTHER IMMERSIVE MEDIA One particular type of film has been studied for its contributions to learn- ing science in informal environments: giant screen theaters (primarily IMAX®, but other vendors as well). These theaters are located in approximately one- third of science museums as well as other venues and show science-based documentaries along with other films. While in some basic sense large-format film is similar to television and cinema—they all employ a screen and typically engage learners in observing a production in silence—there are important differences. The scale and setting of giant screen film may result in a uniquely immersive experience compared with other screen experiences. Because of the large frame size and extremely high resolution of the film, this technol- ogy immerses viewers into the projected image, whether photographed with special cameras or computer-generated. Other types of immersive media include planetariums and laser-projection systems. Planetariums employ optical or digital projection systems to create shows that incorporate images of the sky, space, and occasionally other scientific subjects. Studies of planetarium experiences (e.g., Fisher, 1997) have focused on programming characteristics, such as humor, that have the potential to impact learning or appeal to specific audiences, such as school groups (e.g., Storksdieck, 2005). Laser projection systems, including 3-D versions, have been used in both planetarium and theater settings. These systems can yield spectacular scientific imagery that is simply not available to most people through any other means. Subject matter may include the natural phenomena scientists are inquiring about or representations of sci- entific inquiry (e.g., depictions of deep sea exploration). With the exception of giant screen cinema evaluations, few studies have examined the learning potential of these immersive media. A recent article

260 Learning Science in Informal Environments makes the case for digital, full-dome systems as a powerful tool for learning astronomy, calling for research studies on the best ways to use this technology (Yu, 2005). The most comprehensive study to date is a review of summative evaluations on 10 giant screen projects and associated supporting materials (Flagg, 2005a). The evaluators typically conducted pre-post studies to measure changes in scientific knowledge and perceptions of scientists when scientists were characters in the film. All 10 of the studies showed a positive impact on viewers’ knowledge of scientific concepts (Strand 2). Attitudes and interest have not been measured as frequently in these studies. In 5 of the 10 studies, pre-post measures of interest level were used, and 2 of the 5 found a significant positive impact. Viewers of these two films (Stormchasers and Dolphins) were found to have greater interest in learning more about related topics after viewing the films (Strand 1). A study of the film Tropical Rainforests measured attitude and found that adult, youth, and child viewers had a more positive attitude toward rain forests after viewing the film. In the three studies that measured perceptions of scientists or re- searchers half or more of viewers felt they learned something new about the lives and work of scientists and researchers (Strand 4). Given the continuing commercial success of giant screen films—since the mid-1990s, the format has moved from almost exclusively educational venues and products to largely commercial venues—and these positive evaluation results after only a single viewing, the immersive format appears to have value for viewers. But the there is a need for further research and perhaps a broader set of science learning outcome measures. DIGITAL ENVIRONMENTS The final area of concentrated literature addresses the Internet and as- sociated technologies that have grown rapidly since the late 1980s. Much of this growth has been encouraged by the development and expansion of the World Wide Web since its development in the early 1990s. Originally created to facilitate information exchange among scientists, the web has become part of everyday computer use for millions of people. It hosts a range of sci- ence-specific learning resources, including science outreach pages describing current research; instructional resources for children, educators, and parents; “serious games,” and simulations of scientific phenomena. Other relevant digital technologies that harness scientific knowledge and interface with the web to support science learning include cellular phones, personal digital assistants (PDAs), radio-frequency identification (RFID) chips, and sensory probes. These technologies are harnessed with the intention of enriching learners’ interactions with scientists and peers about scientific inquiry, and relaying science news to vast audiences. While the Internet is not yet universally accessible in homes, schools, and libraries, it is increasingly accessible. The Pew Internet and American

Media 261 Life Project conducted a survey of a random sample of 2000 U.S. adults and reports that 20 percent of people in America said they use the Internet for most of their science news (second only to television at 41 percent), 49 percent of Internet users have visited websites that specialize in science content, and the majority of respondents said they would turn to the In- ternet first to find information on specific scientific topics. Furthermore, 87 percent of online users have used the Internet to conduct research on some aspect of science, and 80 percent of online users have used the Internet to verify the accuracy of scientific claims (Horrigan, 2006). It is important to note, however, that these figures do not account for the speed and quality of connection to the Internet. High-speed Internet service is still beyond reach for many people. Brown and Duguid (2000) argue that society has only begun to realize the transformative power of web-based technologies, which ultimately will be on par with the generation and use of electricity, permeating and redefining society. There are important features of the web that may support science learning in ways that other media do not. Unlike print media, the web al- lows users to both receive and send information. Through user-selected and designed interfaces, the web can honor diverse ways of knowing and learn- ing, so that users can interact with content and with one another in ways that they deem valuable. As an expansive network of users and resources, individuals can leverage resources to communicate with huge numbers of people. Furthermore, these characteristics of the web—dialogic structure, user direction and organization, expansive networking of people and resources, and increasingly user created media—resonate with learning science and informal environments. Is there evidence that high levels of Internet use in general result in positive science learning gains? The answer to this question is not yet in, although there is some evidence. The Pew project reports correlations be- tween Internet-based science information-seeking and individuals’ interest in science. For example, Horrigan (2006) notes that those seeking scientific information on the Internet are more likely to believe that science has a positive impact on society. They are also more likely to report having greater understandings of science, new scientific discoveries, and what it means to study something scientifically. Prior training in science plays a role in these perceptions, as people with college degrees who have taken science courses self-report higher interest in and knowledge of science. It is unclear whether use of the Internet for science learning promotes interest in science, or whether interest in science promotes the use of such tools. Is this correlation a function of selection bias or an outcome of Internet use? The answer to this question will be critical in establishing the impact of the Internet on science learning. Online gaming and participation in virtual worlds occupy the time and attention of a significant and growing population of children and adults, and

262 Learning Science in Informal Environments these environments are increasingly being pitched and analyzed as settings for science learning. Two popular virtual worlds, World of Warcraft and Second Life, report participation of 8.5 and 6.5 million users, respectively. Participants in Sims Online number in the hundreds of thousands (Bainbridge, 2007; Squire and Steinkuehler, 2001). Americans spent $8.2 billion on game software and accessories in 2004 and $10.5 billion in 2005 (Crandall and Sidak, 2006). Video games generate more money than Hollywood films, and they have also become objects for scholarly critique, much as literature, cinema, and other works of art are reviewed and evaluated. The term “serious games” has been used to refer to recent collaborations between educators and game designers to create computer and video games that educate as well as entertain (e.g., Aldrich, 2005; Gee, 2003; Prensky, 2000; Shaffer, 2006; Squire, 2003). One of the virtues of these games is that people use them of their own volition, investing hours in play on a regular basis. Even early video games—which did not offer the rich social potential and startling graphics of today’s virtual worlds—were notably compelling to users, who were intrinsically motivated to pursue rewards embedded in the play experience (Bowman, 1982). Many serious games build on this motiva- tion to create large simulation environments that could take 40 or more hours to master and complete (Squire, 2006). For example, games like Civilization require players to dedicate long periods of time creating imaginary nations while allowing them to simulate and envision possible historical outcomes. The time expenditure could lead learners to deeper understandings of the complex social, economic, and political issues that underlie the success and failure of fictional and real nations (Squire and Barab, 2004). The educational potential for these environments should be understood in light of the tasks they pose and enable users to work on. Although com- puter-based games used in homes and schools around the country have often intended to teach basic literacy, mathematical, or problem-solving skills (e.g., a child playing Lemonade Stand can learn some basic principles of economics), current and future virtual worlds have the potential to support science learning across the strands. Success in gaming environments hinges on integrating a broad range of knowledge and skill. For example, River City is a multiuser virtual environ- ment designed for use in middle grade science classrooms (Dede, Ketelhut, and Ruess, 2002). Students conduct scientific investigations around an illness that is spreading through a virtual city based on realistic historical, socio- logical, and geographical conditions. The authenticity of the virtual world allows learners to engage in practices that resemble those of real scientists (Strand 5). In order to “win” the game, players must form hypotheses, test these by creating and running controlled experiments, and interpret their data to make recommendations about possible courses of action. Being successful requires understanding data provided by characters, books, and scientific

Media 263 tools in the virtual world (Strand 2) and developing skills to transform these data into hypotheses that can be tested (Strand 3). An additional quality of online gaming environments is the high degree of networking which enables participants to draw on the distributed cogni- tive resources of individuals within the room or around the globe to solve them. For example, Whyville.net is a virtual community of 1.2 million users, many of whom are children and teenagers (Feldon and Gilmore, 2006). Once a year, the Whyville designers unleash a virtual epidemic, Whypox, into the online community. When players are infected with the virus, their graphical avatars appear with rashes, and their chat room messages are ran- domly interrupted by the word “achoo” to represent sneezing. The virtual virus becomes an opportunity for players to track the spread of the disease, generate hypotheses about its cause and transmission, and predict when the epidemic will end. Resources in Whyville.net also allow players to learn about viral transmission and simulate portions of the epidemic. While we uncovered no clear analysis of learning in this environment, Foley and La Torre (2004) provide some sense of the potential for learning. They observed that over 1,000 members of Whyville became immersed in the first outbreak of Whypox, exploring various resources and participating in discussions to prevent the spread of the virtual disease (Strand 5). The number of science-related comments in Whyville bulletin boards increased dramatically, although science was still a small part of the overall communica- tions. Neulight and colleagues (2007) reported that player discussions involved comparing their Whypox experiences with existing understandings of disease transfer, but the overall experience did not significantly increase knowledge of the biological processes underlying infectious diseases (Strand 2). This leads to questions about the forms of learning that serious games can facilitate. For example, the Federation of American Sciences is develop- ing Immune Attack, a strategy game that simulates travel inside the human body to learn immunological principles. The anticipated learning outcomes for students who play include (1) increased interest and enthusiasm for im- munology in particular and for science in general (Strand 1), (2) increased interest in biotechnology related careers (Strand 1), (3) increased under- standing of scientific practices (Strand 4), (4) more frequent engagement in scientific practice (Strand 3), and (5) improved knowledge of the immune system (Strand 2). The Whyville studies suggest that interest and motivation are likely to occur (Strand 1), but knowledge improvements may be more difficult to achieve (Strand 2). Rather, it may be possible for these games to increase knowledge of facts and terminology (Strand 2), but it may be more difficult to help players conduct rigorous experimentation, generate causal explanations, and other activities that are typically associated with scientific practice (Strand 3). Nonetheless, virtual worlds and gaming environments may be uniquely rich settings for identity development (Strand 6). As discussed in previous

264 Learning Science in Informal Environments chapters, the notion of “third places” or “third spaces” may provide a useful way to think about this. As neither home nor work, third places are insulated from the strong influence of the real world and provide a unique potential for the development of identity where new resources and constraints evolve in the social milieu of the virtual space. The third place of the chat room or game, rather than the local community center or bar, can become a primary vehicle for identity construction. Whereas geographic, cultural, and technical boundaries have historically constrained cultural exchange among groups and individuals, virtual environments can facilitate transactions across these barriers, opening up new intersections of people, tools, and traditions to support identity development. The previously noted trends in participation are clear, suggesting that although this research is emergent, there is a clear trend in participation in third spaces. Some have argued that the same qualities that make virtual environments rich sites for identity development also make them rich sites for social scien- tific research on the nature of identity. Although there is little evidence yet that virtual museums can drive powerful identity-building experiences, one can envision the enormous possibilities of an entirely new type of virtual museum, science center, or zoological or botanical collection. MEDIA IN VENUES AND CONFIGURATIONS Thus far we have summarized studies of science learning through par- ticular media. Next, we explore the role of media in particular venues and configurations for science learning. We consider in turn each of the venues discussed previously: everyday settings, designed settings, and programs. Everyday and Family Learning How media shape people’s relationship to science and science learn- ing in their daily lives is not yet clear. On one hand, the connectedness that digital technologies afford is enticing. The promise of digital media for enhancing learning—linking learners to experts and knowledgeable peers, building communities around common interests, and even building new knowledge bases—is real and exciting. On the other hand, there are con- siderable concerns about the quality and reliability of media-based accounts of science. Creators and providers of scientific information (and information that is claimed to be scientific information) are multiplying. The proverbial “man on the street” is no longer a figment of political rhetoric, but a potential contributor to public discourse who can readily broadcast his opinions on stem cells, evolution, and science curriculum. The traditional, authoritative sources of scientific information—museums, disciplinary communities, even the mainstream news media—find themselves competing with political and ideological interest groups to convey science to the public. The results can be

Media 265 quite confusing. A Google search of “Is evolution real?” can sometimes bring up as the very first item “Some real scientists reject evolution.” The reality of the vast and expanding world of digital media, which expands authorship dramatically, makes it even more important for individuals to develop the critical capacity to evaluate claims. One crude measure of change in people’s relation to information—if not science—is clear: More people are using computers and digital technolo- gies to communicate, conduct research, and solve practical problems (Fox, 2006; Horrigan, 2006; Madden and Fox, 2006). However, reports of vast and broadening access should be interpreted in light of the kind of access that individuals have: dial-up or broadband, at home, at work, or at a community center or library. It is too early to say what stable patterns will emerge. Yet given the documented changes in behavior of the past 15 years, it seems wise to assume that future use of digital media in everyday life will make that life look very different from what it is today. Not only are people using digital media, but they tend to enjoy it. Learn- ers appear to prefer using digital technology for research over hard copy resources, such as books. This is particularly true for children. Children are drawn in by the quantity of information; they value the multimedia char- acter of web resources and the ease of access (Large and Beheshti, 2000; Fidel, 1999; Ng and Gunstone, 2002; Watson, 1998). Their positive attitude about the Internet as a research tool is particularly interesting in light of their frequent failures to find what they are looking for in searches (Kuiper, Volman, and Terwel, 2005). Older adults—despite broadly held beliefs to the contrary—also value information technology and are interested in learning how to use it. Unlike children, however, their engagement with new media is contingent on seeing a particular added value. They will ask, “Why use a webpage when I could pick up an encyclopedia?” (Lindberg, Carstensen, and Carstensen, 2007). Given the scale and trajectory of digital media use, it is important to assess how people use digital media. Some scholars have raised concerns that learners will be overwhelmed by the sheer volume of information that is available, forcing them to disengage or to rely on inaccurate information. For example, Agosto (2002) conducted a qualitative interview-based study of 22 ninth- and tenth-grade girls’ use of Internet searches and found that study participants frequently experienced information overload. Meanwhile, the girls expressed great satisfaction when the parameters of the search task were reduced and at completion of a search. Another area of considerable interest is determining how skillful people are at searching and sorting reliable and unreliable information. These questions are relevant to any source of scientific information—trade books, textbooks, lectures, etc.—and they have special salience for digital media. Of the basic Internet search strategies—using keywords, browsing, entering

266 Learning Science in Informal Environments URLs, following links—which do people grasp readily and use of their own volition? Much of the research on Internet searching comes from small-scale stud- ies that analyze K-12 students’ efforts to approach an assigned topic with limited instructional guidance (e.g., Fidel, 1999; Wallace, Kupperman, Krajcik, and Soloway, 2000). Thus, the findings should be understood as somewhat distinct from what we have described as everyday learning. Students’ mo- tivations for searching in school may be distinct from those in nonschool settings. However, with these caveats in mind, the literature coalesces around several interesting findings. Children are confident in their Internet search skills in ways that over- estimate their actual abilities. Their searches tend to be intuitive rather than systematic. As they sort through websites and search engine hit lists, they tend to focus narrowly, looking for specific word combinations or sentences and rarely reading beyond headers and topic sentences. Rather than assembling a range of information resources, synthesizing these, and developing their own ideas, children go quickly to the resource that appears to be right and use it with little or no interpretation. It is unclear what this tendency to focus narrowly and search out particular phrases means. Is it a reflection of the institutional setting, or is it a reflection of children’s knowledge and skill? Jones (2001-2002), in their experimental study of 100 students searching the web under variably structured conditions, observed this pattern and interpreted it as a reflection of a broader pattern of teacher-student interactions. In this case, students were convinced that their job was to sort through the finite set of answers to identify the correct answer and have it corroborated by a teacher. Under this interpretation, the finding may be less relevant to everyday settings, in which learners select their own topics, set the pace, and define their own expectations. Bilal (2002a, 2002b) conducted a series of small-scale studies on the information-seek- ing behavior of children. For example, in an exploratory, noncomparative analysis of 22 middle school science students’ searching behavior using the Yahooligans! search engine, she observed that the students were more mo- tivated and more likely to complete web searches when they determined the topics than when topics were assigned (Bilal, 2002b). They were also equally effective in identifying relevant resources under both self-selected and assigned conditions. As research matures on the matters of information overload and the search capabilities of users, two areas of work seem particularly important. Given the limited skill of novice searchers, especially young children, it would be helpful to understand what topics and techniques they explore when they are successful so that these may be leveraged for other areas of inquiry and educational practice. It would also be helpful to consider whether there are productive ways to constrain and focus digital tools (informational resources,

Media 267 search engines) to enhance the quality of searches performed by novices and to aid their efforts to synthesize and interpret results. Designed Settings Museums, science centers, zoos, and aquariums can employ media to support science learning in several ways. As discussed above, informal insti- tutions for learning may offer access to media tools, like networked comput- ers, libraries, and digital databases, to support users’ self-defined agenda or deploy prepackaged media products, like giant screen films and television programs in their exhibit spaces. In this section, we focus on ways in which media components are built into floor-based exhibitions and alternative virtual spaces that extend visitors’ experiences and serve other visitors who do not visit physical locations. Ucko and Ellenbogen (2008, p. 245) indicate interactive exhibits offer visitors the opportunity to explore real (and some- times simulated) scientific phenomena, as well as aspects of historic and state-of-the-art technology. Interactives based on classical physics (e.g., force and motion) tend to be the most widespread because the phenomena lend themselves readily to direct visitor manipulation, although exhibits based on biology (e.g., Colson, 2005) and chemistry (e.g., Ucko, Schreiner, and Shakhashiri, 1986) have also been developed. Because the term “interactive” encompasses an extremely wide range of experiences, from simple tasks explored by individuals to complex tasks requiring multiple collaborators (Heath and vom Lehn, 2008), it is difficult to develop generalized findings about how they support or contribute to learning. Science centers have begun to explore the use of newer technologies to create augmented and virtual environments (Roussou et al., 1999). Re- search on their impact, like other areas of technology in informal environ- ments, is dominated by usability studies and has little to say about learning outcomes or the specific qualities of digitally augmented environments. An exception is a series of exploratory case studies by Roussou and colleagues (e.g., Roussou et al., 1999) that have begun to explore how collaboration in virtual reality (VR) environments can support learning of scientific design concepts (Strand 2). The worlds of virtual reality (a computer-simulated environment) and augmented reality (an environment that is a combination of real-world and computer-generated information) pose particular problems for integrating interactivity. How can people who visit designed spaces in a group together share the same VR experience? What distinctions are made between mere navigational interaction and control over the VR environment? These two problems weaken many of the existing efforts to measure learning in VR environments. Participants report a high level of engagement and enjoyment,

268 Learning Science in Informal Environments but few qualitative or quantitative measures have demonstrated conceptual learning. Further work is needed to demonstrate that this type of interactivity effectively mediates learning, along with serving as an attractor. Technology holds great potential to support inquiry practices in designed spaces (Ansbacher, 1997). It has proven to be an effective scaffolding tool that helps learners engage in domain-specific inquiry (Strand 3) (Linn, Bell, and Davis, 2004). While no clear understanding of its contribution to learning is currently evident, novel technology may have a special appeal and unique potential. Visitors tend to use technology-based exhibits more frequently and for longer periods of time than traditional exhibits (Serrell and Raphling, 1992; Sandifer, 2003), a result that has been attributed to “technological nov- elty” (Sandifer, 2003). In an analysis of 47 visitors and 61 instances of visits to interactive exhibits, Sandifer sought to determine the characteristics of exhibits that sustained visitors’ attention the longest. In a regression analysis, “technological novelty”—the presence of visible state-of-the-art devices or illustrating, through the use of technology, phenomena that would other- wise be impossible or laborious for visitors to explore on their own—was a significant factor in the variance of visitor holding time. “A concern sometimes raised is that technology-based exhibits may re- duce visitors’ interactions with other exhibits or objects in the museum, or worse, replace authentic experiences” (Ucko and Ellenbogen, 2008, p. 246). However, studies suggest that well-designed technological tools can help people plan visits, instigate new interests, and stimulate them to seek out specific objects or experiences (Moussouri and Falk, 2002). There are also concerns that technology may decrease the social interaction that is a hall- mark of learning in informal environments. The interfaces on technology- based exhibits, such as touch screens or joysticks, are often designed for one person (Flagg, 1991). Unless social interaction is prioritized in the design of technology-based exhibits, people will continue to be hampered in their efforts to use technology-based exhibits in social groups (Heath, vom Lehn, and Osborne, 2005). A review of the literature on virtual museum visitors (Haley Goldman and Shaller, 2004) characterized the most common motivations for website visits as gathering information for an upcoming visit to the physical site, engaging in very casual browsing, self-motivated research for specific content informa- tion, and assigned research (such as a school or job assignment) for specific content information. Ucko and Ellenbogen (2008, p. 250) note that preliminary research suggests that the motivations for visits to museum Web sites of designed spaces differ significantly from motivations for visits to physical science museums (Haley Goldman and Shaller, 2004). Typical motivations for science museum visits include entertainment or recreation, social activity, education, a life-cycle event (“My mother always took me here, so now I take my children”), place (“We have to go to the ­Smithsonian

Media 269 while we’re in Washington, DC”), content interest, and practical reasons (“It’s too cold to take the children to the park”) (Moussouri, 1997; ­Rosenfeld, 1980). As technology advances to provide users with new levels of control and authorship, significant evolution in motivations (Strand 1) for participation in virtual museums can be expected. Web 2.0 technologies, for example, enable users to create and modify their own media. One can imagine that motivations for accessing and using virtual collections will change as visitors have more control over the goals of their engagement and a wider variety of tools to use to provide input. Although there is little or no research on virtual designed spaces comparable to the identity-related motivation and psychological research in physical museums, research is growing on identity in virtual space, both on the Internet in general (Curtis, 1992; Donath and Boyd, 2004; Stone, 1996; Turkle, 1995, 2005) and, as previously discussed, in online gaming. Given the evidence that identity-related motivations strongly influence the learning and behavior of visitors to physical designed spaces, we think that an analogous situation may apply to the use of virtual designed spaces. Designed spaces offer opportunities for overcoming some of the meth- odological problems involved in studying science learning outcomes associ- ated with media. A preponderance of the research on outcomes is based on contrived circumstances in which the “dosage” of media is controlled. For example, researchers ask participants to agree to watch a television program for a predetermined period of time and conduct controlled testing to evaluate learning outcomes. While providing a starting point valuable, these studies do not get to the important question of what media learners will select of their own volition. Because designed spaces have always employed media—whether an exhibition case, a diorama, a video, or an interactive—they provide a natu- ral laboratory for seeing how learners select media. Virtual reality spaces, augmented-reality museum experiences, museum blogs, and podcasting art installations are just a few of the new media now appearing in science museums. Recent advances in research on the experiences of visitors’ to designed environments provide a growing understanding of how and why visitors utilize these resources. As discussed throughout this report, visitor motivations are particularly important. As media become further embedded in designed environments in both physical and virtual contexts, researchers must explore why visitors actually choose a particular medium and with what science-specific goals for learning. One component of this research must be to understand whether and how media satisfy people’s identity-related motivations, especially in virtual learning environments which many believe offer unique opportunities for learners to explore or “try on” novel identities.

270 Learning Science in Informal Environments Ultimately, the goal of introducing new media technologies into designed science learning environments is not only to modernize the experience and space, but to significantly improve the quality of the visitor experience, in- cluding enhancing learning outcomes. Research on motivation has shown that both the quality of the visitor experience and the extent and breadth of learning outcomes are directly related to people’s entering motivations. The better one understands the relationship between motivations and learning and how media-based experiences support these motivations (Strand 1), the more successful these efforts will be. There are methodological obstacles to conducting research on “noncap- tive” audiences, whether they are designed spaces visitors, television viewers, or web users. Studies often focus disproportionately on concerns related to usability, such as navigation. This emphasis can contribute to the ease with which users can access learning resources, but it obscures larger, more criti- cal issues. For example, understanding how, why, and to what end people use science museum websites would help designers better select, organize, and present learning resources and activities. Understanding the impact of such experiences can also provide insights into how best to position this virtual resource in relation to the physical science museum, other museum websites, and complementary aspects of the learning infrastructure (e.g., books, magazines, television). Designed spaces are also good sites for exploring the effects of new ap- proaches to using media for creating, distributing, and incorporating content into informal settings. Hand-held personal data assistants and data probes, for example, have been used for years to extend science learning beyond the classroom. These devices are ideal for just-in-time learning (National Research Council, 2000) and field research (e.g., Gay, Reiger, and Bennington, 2002; Soloway et al., 1999). Many of these projects occupy an overlapping space between informal and formal environments, holding potential for linking these environments across the educational infrastructure. Mobile devices such as cellular phones, PDAs, portable audio players, and radio frequency identification tags or transponders have the potential to enhance visitors experiences in designed spaces by supporting self-directed and customized learning at any time in any place. Ucko and Ellenbogen (2008) review the use and impact of mobile technology in designed paces. They note that the “challenges of integrating mobile technology into the museum experience are being addressed in numerous projects that are keeping pace with new developments in hardware and software (e.g., cell phone capabilities), as well as new uses for technology (e.g., podcasting)” (p. 248-249). Further research is needed on the potential for the devices to support learning.

Media 271 Programs for Science Learning Several fundamental challenges common to after-school science programs can be alleviated or addressed through the integration of media programming. After-school programs are usually run on very limited budgets. In addition, recent shifts in the policy landscape have increased the emphasis on measur- able academic and social growth for participants. Although many budgets have increased to support more focused programming, practitioners do not typically feel well trained to address the increasing academic demands and cite limited training and materials as limitations to their effectiveness (Nee, Howe, Schmidt, and Cole, 2006). Furthermore, many programs are commit- ted to serving poor students, resulting in additional concerns for keeping costs of programs low. A number of programs are integrating media to support children’s and adolescents’ academic and leisure-time engagement with science. After- school science programs have harnessed broadcast media (e.g., Bill Nye the Science Guy, Cyberchase, Design Squad) and digital media (e.g., Kinetic City). The Fifth Dimension Program (described in Chapter 6), though not science specific, offers an interesting example of an interactive, moderated virtual world. Science learning media can support science and academic learning out- comes with relatively modest investments. For example, the Rockman Et Al (1996) evaluation of Bill Nye the Science Guy found that the popular televi- sion series was being used in after-school settings. The positive cognitive (Strand 2) and science practice gains (Strand 4) associated with participation were discussed earlier in this chapter. In addition, field researchers observed that children chose to watch the program over unmoderated free play activities with peers (Strand 1). They also observed upper elementary grade children holding sustained conversations among themselves about the program during and after viewing it with little facilitation from adults (Strand 5). Boys were more likely to view Bill Nye regularly than girls. This observed gender disparity is perhaps one consequence of minimal instructional support and training. While leaning heavily on a standalone television program with little facilitation is not the optimal design for rich learning, the Rockman Et Al (1996) findings are interesting and suggest the possibility of developing strong, easily implemented after-school science learning programming. We did not find studies exploring the use of media in adult programming. KEY THEMES We have identified key ideas in particular segments of the literature on media and learning science in informal environments. Five cross-cutting themes or issues are raised by this literature:

272 Learning Science in Informal Environments 1. Who uses media to learn science in informal environments? 2. The role of media in creating science identities. 3. Does format matter? 4. Science as a process. 5. The need for longitudinal and cross-media studies. Who Uses Media to Learn Science in Informal Environments? Access is a universal challenge for educators, programs, and institu- tions concerned with science education. There are considerable inequities and related concerns in access to science learning media. Those who ac- cess science in informal settings are generally already interested in science, as participation in these environments is voluntary rather than mandatory (Crane, 1994). The patterns of who participates are quite stark in broadcast media. Evidence suggests that individuals using media for science learning are privileged and highly educated. For example, PBS viewers “are 44 percent more likely than the average Joe to have a household income over $150,000; 39 percent more likely to have a graduate degree; and 177 percent more likely to have investments of $150,000 and up.” And NPR listeners “are 152 percent more likely to own a home valued at $500,000 or more; 194 percent more likely to travel to France; and 326 percent more likely to read the New Yorker” (Schulz, 2005). It appears that both networks have a large, highly educated audience. While the evidence is not in, many people hold out hope that new media and new approaches to blending technologies will open up science learning to a more diverse population. The Internet provides unique ways to access and participate in scientific discussions that may suit the interests of groups that don’t attend, for example to broadcast science media. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the National Geographic Society, Scientific American, and other reliable science sources regularly produce and distribute podcasts, audio/video recordings that can be listened to on personal computers and music devices. Some universities (e.g., University of California at Berkeley, Massachusetts Institute of Technol- ogy, Pennsylvania State University) record course lectures and make them available to the public. And there are science podcasts created by regular citizens who have knowledge to share with others (Strand 5). This latter category of knowledgeable people sharing information over the Internet is an important trend as the act of producing ideas may invite new participants into science learning media. A website like the CommonCraft Show (http://www.commoncraft.com) presents opportunities for people to understand new computing trends through their explanatory video clips. Sites like dnatube.com and myjove.com hold collections of videotaped experi-

Media 273 ments for scientists and nonscientists to explore and learn from. Even the popular YouTube.com website, best known for its novelty videos, contains clips of real science content and experiments, often produced by individuals motivated to share what they know with the world. We need to consider how to develop science media for informal settings that attract and retain more diverse audiences, who may be the people who benefit most from science content presented outside formal educational settings. Designers of informal media seem to understand how to attract audiences with preexisting interests in science. Better ways are needed to create and advertise programming that appeals to those who would typically avoid science for whatever reason. Questions of Identity As designed environments become further embedded with media in both physical and virtual contexts, it is critical to align those technologies with an understanding of why visitors actually choose to use those resources with science-specific goals for learning. Too often, technologies are embraced because of an interest in advancing an institution’s missions and agendas, without questioning how well those technologies actually serve the needs and interests of the museum’s audiences. In other words, the success of new technologies in the museum context will partially be a consequence of its physical attributes, such as adaptability, availability, and usability, but of equal if not more importance will be whether the technology satisfies the situated, identity-related motivations of users. One clear need is to conduct research on visitors’ identity-related motivations in virtual learning environments. Such research in the physical realm has begun to produce some very useful and provocative findings; parallel research in the virtual realm promises to do likewise. Does Format Matter? The same science content can be presented in different media, leading to questions about whether the form and structure of a medium influences learning outcomes. For example, Richard Clark suggested that performance or efficiency gains attributed to particular media could be the result of instruc- tional methods or novelty effects rather than anything unique about the media format (Clark, 1983). In other words, there may be reasons to choose a par- ticular medium for content delivery, but it is the content itself that influences learner achievement. This led Clark to recommend that “researchers refrain from producing additional studies exploring the relationship between media and learning unless a novel theory is suggested” (Clark, 1983, p. 457). A related body of research explores how different components in a multimedia environment interrelate to support learning (Mayer and Moreno,

274 Learning Science in Informal Environments 2003; Moreno, 2006; Moreno and Mayer, 1999). Although Mayer and col- leagues’ cognitive model of multimedia learning has not been expressly tested and developed in informal environments, it may be of interest to the field. Researchers have developed this work through a series of laboratory- based studies in which they use computer technology to test the influence of (1) modality (text versus audio) and (2) spatial and temporal contiguity of particular media elements (e.g., the spatial and temporal proximity of text and a related video animation in a computer environment) on cognition. Through a series of controlled laboratory experiments primarily with col- lege student volunteers, researchers have established that, when words and images are represented contiguously in time and/or space, the effectiveness of multimedia instruction increases, influencing recall (Mayer, 1989; Mayer, Steinhoff, Bower, and Mars, 1995) and transfer to novel problems (Mayer, 1997). Mayer and Anderson (1991, 1992) have also established that, in a laboratory setting, concurrent presentation of textual and graphic information (e.g., explanation of how a tire pump works and relevant imagery) is more conducive to recall and transfer than presentation of the same information in a series (e.g., text then graphic or graphics then text). They have also found that students presented with auditory verbal materials plus animations recalled more, solved problems better, and were better able to match the visual and verbal elements than those who learn with on-screen text plus animations. These ideas may be fruitful for design and further testing in informal environments for science learning. There is also evidence that elements of certain media may help to focus learners on important issues. This feature can be useful for designed set- tings, in which opportunities to engage participants are often narrow and fleeting. For example, motion pictures use various cinematic techniques, such as panning and zooming, to help learners attend to filmed details that might otherwise go unnoticed during casual viewing (Salomon, 1994). Similar claims have been made about the interactive properties that computational media afford. For example, well-designed computer games and simulations have been touted by several researchers (Baillie and Percoco, 2001; Gee, 2007; Greenfield, 1984; Papert, 1980) as ideal spaces for learning science for a number of reasons: they enable learners to customize the learning en- vironment; they situate learning in a more authentic context; they provide direct experiences and interaction with intangible, abstract, ideal, complex, or otherwise unavailable scientific phenomena; and they engage users in collaborative, active, and problem-based learning. Perhaps more important is Robert Kozma’s rebuttal to Clark’s argument, especially in light of the strands discussed throughout this volume. Kozma (1991) argued that one could study learning occurred when the same mes- sage was presented in different media formats. But he emphasized the im- portance of theories of distributed cognition (Salomon, 1993) that describe how individual cognition is developed through interactions with peers and

Media 275 artifacts. For example, talking with expert scientists, teachers, and knowledge- able peers (Strand 5) can lead to greater knowledge of science. This land of learning can also take place when working with various objects, such as calculators, computers, and video clips. Kozma’s viewpoint accounts for the social contexts in which media are used. An episode of a children’s television program can be used in multiple venues (e.g., classrooms, homes, after-school centers) for different purposes and lead to different learning outcomes. While some studies suggest that media formats have an impact on student learning, it is also worth consider- ing if these studies have examined the possible effects of interactions with peers and the media objects. Science as a Process Recent reforms in science education have been concerned with bringing rigorous scientific content into classrooms as well as introducing learners to the practices of scientific inquiry (American Association for the Advancement of Science, 1990; National Research Council, 1996, 2007). While traditional science learning is often thought of as acquiring concepts and terminology (Strand 1), inquiry reforms emphasize the need for students to perform tasks similar to those encountered in scientific practice (Strand 3): posing ques- tions, generating and interpreting data, and developing conclusions based on their investigations (Linn, diSessa, Pea, and Songer, 1994). Developing deep understandings of science requires understanding the nature of sci- entific explanations, models, and theories as well as the practices used to generate these products (Strand 4). In other words, students should learn how to plan and conduct investigations of phenomena while also ground- ing these activities in specific theoretical frameworks related to particular scientific disciplines. Despite these goals and recommendations, many science-related informal media focus on providing information about facts and phenomena. It may be easier to develop these types of programs than create materials that engage students in doing science. For example, science documentaries can present information about earthquakes and tsunamis, but the narrative flow of these programs might be compromised by including experiments for viewers to conduct. Furthermore, it would be difficult to know if viewers were actually performing these experiments in classrooms and homes. As discussed above, few studies speak to the impact of science-related programs on the audience’s understanding of science. For example, Hall, Esty, and Fisch (1990) investigated the impact of a television program, Square One TV, on children’s problem-solving heuristics when working with complex mathematical problems. They found program viewers using more problem-solving actions and being more mathematically rigorous in post-test problems than nonviewers. Evaluations of Bill Nye the Science Guy

276 Learning Science in Informal Environments have also been conducted to demonstrate differences between viewers and nonviewers’ abilities to make observations and comparisons (Rockman Et Al, 1996). Studies like these suggest ways to assess whether informal media can model scientific processes for learners. Some media are clearly well suited for engaging learners in the process of science (Strand 3). Computer- and web-based environments can present facts along with simulations that allow people to generate and test hypotheses. In some cases, learners become immersed in science and engineering by designing their own materials. For example, Resnick, Berg, and Eisenberg’s (2000) Beyond Black Boxes project used small, programmable computers called Crickets to allow students to develop monitoring instruments to study scientific problems that interested them (e.g., how many birds visit a back- yard bird feeder each day). A growing number of game environments or engines allow users to customize their gaming experiences by building and expanding game behavior. Some studies have found a range of skills that can be learned through this customization, including computer programming, software engineering, and mathematics (Harel, 1991; Hooper, 1998; Kafai, 1994; Seif El-Nasr and Smith, 2006; Seif El-Nasr et al., 2007). Museum exhibits that incorporate media can also be created that focus on the process of science (Strand 3) rather than its findings, such as the Mysteries of Çatalhöyük exhibition at the Science Museum of Minnesota (Pohlman, 2004). Many of the media associated with programs, such as citizen science programs, are also focused on process rather than scientific fact (Bonney, 2004). Longitudinal and Cross-Media Studies Many studies of learning science in informal environments look at single or a small number of exposures to a medium. These studies provide infor- mation about the effects of particular media instances, but there is a lack of research dealing with repeated exposures to programs over long periods of time. For example, how do people come to appreciate science after watch- ing NOVA for 1, 3, or 12 months? Little is known about how people learn about a single content or domain area across different media formats. To illustrate this, consider a child reading a book about dinosaurs at age 3. She may like the book and ask to read it many times. Sensing her excitement for dinosaurs, her parents may take her to a museum to see an exhibit on her fourth birthday. The parents may have also bought her several dinosaur models from a local toy store during that period. A television program on dinosaurs may air after the museum visit, providing more information. And, in the era of networked computing, the family may seek dinosaur information together on the Internet. Crowley and Jacobs refer to the repeated exposure to a single topic across multiple media as an island of expertise (Crowley and Jacobs, 2002).

Media 277 These islands begin to form with initial interests and ultimately develop into deep, rich knowledge about a particular domain. Chi and Koeske’s (1983) study of a young dinosaur expert demonstrates how children can develop categorization and recall skills around a domain through repeated readings of books. Crowley and Jacobs build on this by suggesting that islands of ex- pertise can also develop over time with exposure to different media formats and conversations with knowledgeable mentors and peers. Researchers of learning science in informal environments need to con- sider the effects of long-term exposure to single, specific media exemplars (e.g., the cumulative effects of watching Bill Nye the Science Guy for a year) as well as multiple media formats presenting the same content in different ways (e.g., books, films, museum exhibits on dinosaurs). These studies are very difficult to envision and carry out. There are methodological obstacles to conducting research on “noncaptive” audiences, whether nature center visitors, television viewers, or web users. Exploring the repeated interac- tion of multiple media and venues would provide insights into how best to position virtual and physical resources for science learning, including better understanding of the relationship between designed spaces, websites, book, magazines, television, and digital entertainment. CONCLUSION Science-related media are likely to continue to play a major role in the ways that people learn about science informally. The public often cites broad- cast, print, and digital media as their major sources of scientific information. Media producers seek large audiences, and they have developed techniques to present scientific content in entertaining and engaging ways. These modes of engagement are aligned with Strand 1, helping learners develop initial interests in science. Studies of science media have also demonstrated effects on people’s perceptions of science and scientists (Strand 4). In the best cases, they can portray science as an interesting practice, scientists as a diverse group of individuals who lead normal lives, and demonstrate the realities of scientific investigation. REFERENCES Agosto, D. (2002). Bounded rationality and satisficing in young people’s web-based decision making. Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, 53 (1), 16-27. Aldrich, C. (2005). Learning by doing: A comprehensive guide to simulations, com- puter games, and pedagogy in e-learning and other educational experiences. San Francisco: Wiley. American Association for the Advancement of Science. (1990). Science for all Ameri- cans: Project 2061. New York: Oxford University Press.

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Informal science is a burgeoning field that operates across a broad range of venues and envisages learning outcomes for individuals, schools, families, and society. The evidence base that describes informal science, its promise, and effects is informed by a range of disciplines and perspectives, including field-based research, visitor studies, and psychological and anthropological studies of learning.

Learning Science in Informal Environments draws together disparate literatures, synthesizes the state of knowledge, and articulates a common framework for the next generation of research on learning science in informal environments across a life span. Contributors include recognized experts in a range of disciplines--research and evaluation, exhibit designers, program developers, and educators. They also have experience in a range of settings--museums, after-school programs, science and technology centers, media enterprises, aquariums, zoos, state parks, and botanical gardens.

Learning Science in Informal Environments is an invaluable guide for program and exhibit designers, evaluators, staff of science-rich informal learning institutions and community-based organizations, scientists interested in educational outreach, federal science agency education staff, and K-12 science educators.

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