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Factors from informal learning contributing to the children’s interest in STEM – experiences from the out-of-schoolactivity called Children’s University
Karlstad University, Faculty of Health, Science and Technology (starting 2013), Department of Environmental and Life Sciences (from 2013). (SMEER)ORCID iD: 0000-0002-9060-9973
Karlstad University, Faculty of Health, Science and Technology (starting 2013), Department of Environmental and Life Sciences (from 2013). (SMEER)ORCID iD: 0000-0001-8735-2102
2019 (English)In: Research in Science & Technological Education, ISSN 0263-5143, E-ISSN 1470-1138, p. 1-21, article id doi.org/10.1080/02635143.2019.1667321Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Background: Previous studies have investigated effects of out-ofschoolSTEM activities aimed at stimulating children’s interest inscience with positive results. However, research has not discussedthe reasons why such activities are successful.

Purpose: In this study, we address this gap by investigating whichfactors children themselves identified as interesting when they visitedevents at an out-of-school activity named The Children’s University.

Sample: Children aged 8–12 participated in the study. Altogether,there were 353 children involved in the data collection.

Design and methods: A mixed method design was used, includinga questionnaire and semi-structured interviews inwhich children’s selfreportedexperiences were collected. Likert scale questions in thequestionnairewere analysed based on descriptive statistics. The openendedquestions and data from the interviews were categorized bycontent analysis and analytically interpreted through ‘the Ecologicalframework for understanding learning across places and pursuits’.

Results: The children were positive about their visit, and these utterancescould mainly be related to the development of the individuals’interest and knowledge according to the Ecological framework. Weidentified two new factors influencing student’s interest in STEM inout-of-school activities: appreciating the spectacular and learning;verifying two factors of importance previously suggested in the literature:appreciating the content and the learning environment.

Conclusions: The study highlights the specific factors the childrenactually appreciated from their visits to out-of-school activities,which could be of interest for stakeholders arranging differentkinds of STEM events promoting informal learning. The contentin the activities is important as well as spectacular features. Tohave the opportunity to learn something new in an environmentthat is conducive to learning is also of importance for children.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2019. p. 1-21, article id doi.org/10.1080/02635143.2019.1667321
Keywords [en]
Interest in STEM; content; spectacular; learning; informal learning environment
National Category
Social Sciences
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:kau:diva-75275OAI: oai:DiVA.org:kau-75275DiVA, id: diva2:1360570
Available from: 2019-10-14 Created: 2019-10-14 Last updated: 2019-10-14

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