Degree Granting Department
Barbara S. Spector, Ph. D.
Arthur Shapiro, Ph. D.
Paschal Strong, Ph. D.
Diane Te Strake, Ph. D.
community of practice, informal science education, informal science institutions, ISE, ISI, professional development
This research attempted to understand the experiences of a cohort of informal and formal science educators and informal science institution (ISI) community representatives during and after completion of a pilot graduate certificate program. Informal science educators (ISEs) find limited opportunities for professional development and support which influence their contributions to America's science literacy and school science education. This emergent design nested case study described how an innovative program provided professional development and enabled growth in participants' abilities to contribute to science literacy. Data were collected through interviews, participant observations, and class artifacts. The program by design and constituency was the overarching entity that accounted for members' experiences. Three principal aspects of the ISI certificate program and cohort which influenced perceptions and reported positive outcomes were (1) the cohort's composition and their collaborative activities which established a vigorous community of practice and fostered community building, mentoring, and networking, (2) long term program design and implementation which promoted experiential learning in a generative classroom, and (3) ability of some members who were able to be independent or autonomous learners to embrace science education reform strategies for greater self-efficacy and career advancement.
This research extends the limited literature base for professional development of informal science educators and may benefit informal science institutions, informal and formal science educators, science education reform efforts, and public education and science-technology-society understanding. The study may raise awareness of the need to establish more professional development opportunities for ISEs and to fund professional development. Further, recognizing and appreciating informal science educators as a diverse committed community of professionals who positively influence science education for everyone is essential.
Scholar Commons Citation
Ball, Lois A., "Member Perceptions of Informal Science Institutions Graduate Certificate Program: Case Study of a Community of Practice" (2012). USF Tampa Graduate Theses and Dissertations.