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Written by experts, Gives a modern approach, Comprehensive in Scope
Informal learning, also called free choice learning or out-of-school time, is a relatively new field that has grown exponentially in the past 15 years. Research on the learning and teaching that takes place in these non-traditional, non-classroom environments, such as museums, gardens, afterschool and community programs, has enjoyed tremendous growth; yet we still need to understand much more, and more deeply, how people actually interact, participate and learn in such settings. Putting Theory into Practice: Tools for Research in Informal Settings is designed as a research and practice toolkit, offering a range of theoretically well-grounded methods for assessing learning for life in diverse settings and among diverse populations. We pay special attention to the full complexity, challenges and richness involved in such research into learning in places like museums, aquariums, after-school clubs, and gardens. Putting Theory into Practice serves both, researchers and practitioners, as well as a more general audience. This book offers several field-tested methods for building empirically-based, informal learning settings and research deeply grounded and guided by theory. Sociocultural theory, broadly defined, forms the unifying theoretical framework for the different qualitative studies presented. Each chapter clearly lays out the theoretical underpinnings and how these inform the suggested methods. The chapters are written by recognized experts in the field, and each addresses, in its own way, “the synergy among different learning contexts and the benefits of studying how contexts influence learning.” Together they give voice to the diversity, richness, and complexity of the study of learners and learning for life.
Acknowledgements; 1. Introduction: Tools for Research in Informal Settings; 2. A Reflective Hermeneutic Approach To Research Methods Investigating Visitor Learning; Application: Putting Theory into Practice & Discussion Questions; 3. Methodologies for Reflective Practice and Museum Educator Research: The Role of “Noticing” and Responding; Application: Putting Theory into Practice & Discussion Questions; 4. Reframing Collaborations with Informal Science Institutions: The Importance of Communities of Practice; Application: Putting Theory into Practice & Discussion Questions; 5. Action Research as a Means to Learn to Teach in Out-Of-School Settings; Application: Putting Theory into Practice & Discussion Questions; 6. Tracing our Methodological Steps: Making Meaning of Diverse Families’ Hybrid “Figuring Out” Practices at Science Museum Exhibits; Application: Putting Theory into Practice & Discussion Questions; 7. Multi-Sited Ethnography: A Tool for Studying Time/Space Dimensions of Learning and Identity Work in Science; Application: Putting Theory into Practice & Discussion Questions; 8. Mediated Action as a Framework for Exploring Learning in Informal Settings; Application: Putting Theory into Practice & Discussion Questions; 9. Epilogue: Learning in the Usual Places; About the Authors; Index.