The Association of Science-Technology Centers, the Center for Science and Industry (COSI) Center for Research and Evaluation and Oregon State University’s STEM Research Center (led by Kelly Riedinger and Martin Storksdieck) are collaborating for this innovation in development project to develop a repository of resources and supports to increase the usability, usefulness, and on-the-ground use of the Informal STEM Learning (ISL) Professional Competency Framework that was developed with previous NSF support (#1514815,1514884, 1514890, and 1515315).

The ISL Professional Competency Framework (the Framework) was developed and validated through the previously funded project and identifies the suite of skills, knowledge, and capabilities necessary to be successful in a particular area of work, while acknowledging and supporting multiple pathways for individuals to develop those competencies. Evaluations conducted during the development of the Framework validated its content and potential, but emphasized an interest and need among ISL professionals for supporting resources that could improve and expand access to the Framework and provide guidance for using it. The current project will develop a repository of supports through collaborative work with a diverse population of ISL professionals could ensure that the Framework is “useful, usable, and in-use” to ensure the resources, strategies, and tools that can be used by individuals, institutions, academic programs, and other professional organizations to guide and support the ways that professional skills are developed.

The resources will be created by a diverse group of ISL professionals through listening sessions and participatory design workshops and have the potential to significantly advance the professional learning (as undertaken by individuals and institutions) and the professional development capacity (as provided by institutions, associations, and other organizations) of the ISL field. The ISL Professional Competency Framework and associated supports hold promise over time to contribute to opening the field of ISL for currently underrepresented groups of professionals through increased transparency of expectations and more clarity around professional growth pathways in ISL.