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As the university's central hub for interdisciplinary education research, the Center is involved in several long- and short-term projects. Read about our local, national, and international involvements below.

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.

Collaborative Research: An Evidence-based Informal STEM Learning (ISL) Professional Framework

2015 - 2019

The Collaborative Research: An Evidence-based Informal STEM Learning (ISL) Professional Framework project focused on developing a Professional Framework for the field of informal STEM learning (ISL). The project addressed two current and pressing issues: (1) Ensuring that ISL professionals have the necessary knowledge and skills to apply the substantial and growing evidence base in ISL in order to effectively engage the public in STEM, and (2) Understanding and supporting the needs of the full range of ISL professionals during their basic education and at particular points throughout their careers. These two issues are linked.

Authenticity of Sources in Data Visualization: How Real Do We Have to Be?

2015 - 2016

The Authenticity of Sources in Data Visualization project asks: does it matter whether a museum object or experience is real and that visitors perceive it as such? How disappointed would visitors be if they learned that they had encountered a replica of the Mona Lisa or the Hope Diamond? Empirical visitor research suggests that it matters to museum visitors’ enjoyment and sense of connection with what the objects or experiences represent (science, history, art, etc.) whether an encountered object is real or authentic, but that visitors may care less about authenticity if they are placed in a mode in which they seek conceptual understanding. So, just what does that mean in terms of the realness or authenticity of virtual experiences or scientific representations?

Shifting Departmental Culture to Re-Situate Learning and Instruction

2015 - 2020

Led by PI Jim Sweeney and Co-PIs Devlin Montfort, Milo Koretsky, Michelle Bothwell, and Sue Nolen, the purpose of this project is to make bold and deliberate changes to the educational environment and practices in the School of Chemical, Biological, and Environmental Engineering at Oregon State University. The project team is redesigning the curriculum and investing in extensive faculty training to reshape the School of Chemical, Biological, and Environmental Engineering into a warm, welcoming environment that helps students build strong ties between the content in the classroom and the rest of their lives. The graduates will be dramatically better prepared to apply their knowledge to whatever new and unpredictable challenges face our society in the years to come.

Cascading Experiences: Using Big Data and Visual Analytics to Investigate the Long-term Effects of Informal STEM Learning

2015 - 2017

With support from the U.S. National Science Foundation’s Advancing Informal STEM Learning (AISL) program, Principal Investigators John Falk from Oregon State University and the Institute for Learning Innovation, Hasan Jamil from University of Idaho, and Kang Zhang from University of Texas at Dallas created an innovative new tool for investigating the long-term effects of learning experiences. They studied a range of online data sources to track over time the continuing conversations, inquiries and learning that individuals do after they engage in an educational experience, what Falk calls Cascading Experiences.

Equity Pathways in Informal Science Learning Environments

2015 - 2016

In collaboration with King's College London and Michigan State University, Oregon State University's Lynn Dierking, with some support from Victoria Bonebrake, has conducted a Science Learning+ Initiative planning project funded by the Wellcome Trust. Called the “Youth Access & Equity Research & Practice Agenda in Informal Science Learning (ISL) Environments” project, or "Equity Pathways in ISL" for short, the project's focus is to establish a UK-US researcher/practitioner network in order to develop a "youth access & equity research & practice agenda” focused on youth ages 11-14, primarily living in under-resourced communities.

AISL Framework

2015 - 2020

The AISL Framework project centered on the creation and validation of a theoretically grounded and empirically derived Framework for professional growth and learning within the informal STEM learning (ISL) field.

Enhancing STEM Education at OSU (ESTEME@OSU)

2014 - 2018

ESTEME@OSU was a project born out of action research and broadly implemented innovative evidence-based instructional practices - specifically, interactive engagement in lecture and formal cooperative learning in studio workshop laboratories - into core undergraduate courses in biology, chemistry, engineering, mathematics, and physics at OSU.

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.

Broader Impacts: Understanding STEM Principle Investigators’ Approach to Informal Education


The Broader Impacts: Understanding STEM Principle Investigators’ Approach to Informal Education project was a combined effort between the STEM Research Center and the NSF-funded Center for the Advancement of Informal Science Education – CAISE – to assist the NSF Advancing Informal STEM Learning (AISL) program to enhance the quality of investigators’ broader impact efforts by improving their understanding of and connections with out-of-school educational resources like science centers, media, community organizations, and the web.

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.