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Learning Ecosystems

Learning Ecosystems

Our Learning Ecosystems research investigates how learning occurs within a learner's (STEM) ecosystem, not only in school or out of school, but in a complex network of institutions, families, environments, and events.

The Virtual Field: A Mitigation Strategy for the COVID-19 Pandemic

2020 - 2023

The COVID-19 pandemic is causing massive disruptions in higher education. Faculty across disciplines are struggling to quickly transition to virtual classrooms. Nowhere has this been more difficult than in the field sciences, where first-hand experience with the complexity of the natural world is essential for applying classroom learning to authentic settings, developing deep content knowledge and skills, and fostering identity as a field scientist.

The Circuit: A Platform for Increasing Access to, Deepening and Researching Patterns of Family and Adult Participation in Informal Science

2019 - 2023

Funded by the National Science Foundation and led by director Dr. Martin Storksdieck, Center researchers Dr. Heather Fischer and Kimberley Preston are collaborating with several partners to research and develop, a mobile phone and web-based application designed to empower families and the general public to discover the full spectrum of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) informal learning opportunities available in most communities. Currently, there are no “one-stop” search platforms for these resources. This groundbreaking resource would allow users to efficiently search a rich informal STEM database enabling them to identify resources by location, geography, age levels, science discipline, type of program, and more. This will be accomplished through the aggregation and organization of digital content from trusted informal STEM networks of content providers. The development of this app will also provide researchers with new opportunities to analyze how families and adults engage with informal STEM resources in their communities.

Gulf of Maine Research Institute LabVenture

2018 - 2023

The research team from the STEM Research Center at Oregon State University is partnering with the Gulf of Maine Research Institute and TERC on a research in service to practice project funded by NSF’s Advancing Informal STEM Learning program. The project is examining the impact of a longstanding, statewide science field trip program called LabVenture.

Explorer at Large Pilot Implementation

2017 - 2020

The STEM Research Center was a research and evaluation partner with Little Yud Ventures and the PAST Foundation on the Explorer at Large (XAL) pilot program in Ohio.Through freely distributed videos and associated instructional materials (study and teacher guides), hands-on in-class and outdoor activities, field trips to relevant local settings, and parent-student engagements, XAL aimed to enable students across three cities in Ohio to experience and practice scientific thinking skills that would prepare them for advanced education and career success within a pedagogical approach that taps into children’s natural curiosity and playfulness.

Undergraduate Field Experiences Network (UFERN)

2017 - 2022

Field stations and marine labs often provide specific types of training not provided anywhere else in the undergraduate education system. Because of the potential of these programs for reaching a broad range of undergraduates across the U.S. and the world and the tremendous investment in field stations and marine labs, it is critical to consider how to best provide effective educational experiences at these venues and other extended field programs. The Undergraduate Field Experiences in Research Network (U-FERN) worked to understand the impacts of these types of experiences and to build a community of practitioners working together with education researchers to share and develop effective practices that are inclusive of all students. The network connects current knowledge about the persistence of underrepresented students in Science Technology Engineering Math (STEM) with practitioners of undergraduate field experiences to harness the power of active learning as a potential for increasing participation and persistence in the field-based sciences.

CAISE Evaluation

2016 - 2021

The Center for Advancement of Informal Science Education (CAISE) is a resource center funded through a cooperative agreement with the NSF Advancing Informal STEM Learning (AISL) Program. The current period of funding builds on the work of CAISE since it began in 2007 to provide support to professional audiences in informal STEM learning (ISL) including professionals working in science centers and museums, zoos and aquariums, parks and botanical gardens, nature centers, events and festivals, libraries, making and tinkering spaces, media, digital learning environments, youth and out-of-school time programs, and community programs.

Bringing the Universe to America's Classrooms

2016 - 2021

The Bringing the University to America’s Classrooms project included the production, evaluation, and dissemination of a comprehensive set of Next Generation Science Standards-aligned interactive modules for K-12 students – collections of STEM resources highlighting NASA science through custom-designed resources, including video clips, interactives, animations, digital games, lab experiences, and accompanying lesson plans.

STEM Matters: Investigating the Confluence of Visitor and Institutional Agendas

2016 - 2021

Led by Dr. Kelly Riedinger and Dr. Martin Storksdieck with assistance from Kimberley Preston Victoria Bonebrake, Nicolette Canzoneri, and Kevin Keys OSU’s STEM Research Center partnered with two other research organizations, Knology (formerly New Knowledge Organization Ltd. and COSI’s Center for Research and Evaluation on the NSF grant STEM Matters: Investigating the Confluence of Visitor and Institutional Agendas also referred to in the zoo and aquarium field as the Why Zoos and Aquariums Matter (WZAM) project.

Oregon STEM Hub Evaluation

2016 - 2019

STEM Hubs are regionally-focused, multi-sector partnerships that unite schools, universities, non-profits, businesses, civic leaders and other members of communities in so-called local STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) learning ecosystems. STEM Hubs have their origin in recent research on effective STEM programming which strongly recommends integrated approaches to teaching and learning that include not only all students, but also all assets for learning, both in and outside the classroom. To do this, STEM Hubs are implementing strategies that include (amongst others) educator professional development on best practices in STEM instruction; in- and out-of-school, hands-on STEM learning experiences for students; and connections to fast-growing STEM employment opportunities in Oregon. But most importantly, STEM Hubs are creating connections between programs, thereby ensuring that they develop their full effectiveness. The state of Oregon is supporting STEM Hubs by funding a backbone infrastructure as an essential component of a collective impact organization.

SYNERGIES: Customizing Interventions to Sustain Youth STEM Interest and Participation Pathways

2015 - 2021

The SYNERGIES: Customizing Interventions to Sustain Youth STEM Interest and Participation Pathways was an NSF Research in Service to Practice project (DRL 1516718) which leveraged research findings from a previous longitudinal study to support a systematic design phase involving a variety of educational partners (both informal and formal) to develop a set of customized, connected and coordinated learning opportunities to address the well-documented decline of youth attitudes, interest, and motivation to participate in STEM during early adolescence and beyond.

Connected Science Learning

2014 - 2017

The National Science Teachers Association (led by PI David Evans), the Association of Science-Technology Centers (led by Co-PI Margaret Glass), and Oregon State University’s STEM Research Center (led by Co-PI Kelly Riedinger) received an Early Concept Grant for Exploratory Research (EAGER) from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to develop, disseminate and evaluate a new resource for connecting STEM education practitioners across settings and to the teaching and learning knowledge base. As a result of this initiative, a new journal, Connected Science Learning: Linking In-School and Out-of-School STEM Learning was launched in the Spring of 2016. The STEM Research Center led the summative evaluation study to understand the impact of the journal on the STEM education field.

Advancing STEM, Creativity & Innovation Learning through SYNERGIES

2013 - 2014

Advancing SCILS (STEM, Creativity & Innovation Learning through SYNERGIES was a pilot study in support of a community-wide partnership in the Parkrose neighborhood of E. Portland. With support from the Lemelson Foundation, Center-affiliated researchers Lynn Dierking, Nancy Staus, and John Falk with the assistance of Jennifer Wyld and Deb Bailey worked to better understand the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, & Mathematics), creativity and invention learning of early adolescents under-represented in STEM. By working with the community to improve the educational capacities of an STEM providers (both in- and out-of-school), this innovative project aimed to improve the chances that under-served early adolescents will be able to successfully compete in the rapidly changing world of the 21st Century.