Figuring out what works: learning and engaging with ideas about evolution within integrated informal learning environments

Dina Nesimyan – Agadi, Orit Ben Zvi Assaraf

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Informal learning environments can be a fun and effective means of introducing visitors to a variety of topics in evolution. Our study examined 120 sixth-grade students’ conceptualisation of evolutionary ideas following three evolution-themed “Science Days” at ‘Nature Campus’—an informal learning environment in Central Israel comprised of a natural history museum, zoological and botanical gardens. The students visited Nature Campus in groups of twenty. After each science day, the students worked in teams of 4–5 to make a poster, based on five pictures representing topics from the learning environment. This poster-making process served as a knowledge integration activity, aimed at assisting students in organizing all the knowledge from each science day, and integrating it with knowledge from the previous science days. Observations of students’ discussions while making their posters and video recordings of the activities throughout the science days were used as a basis for conclusions regarding which events in the program were recalled as meaningful by the students. The ideas and concepts that arose during the students’ poster making process demonstrated knowledge drawn from multiple activities in which they had engaged on Nature Campus, reflecting an understanding of evolution-related concepts from the fields of paleontology and ecology. Our findings showed that concepts and ideas that were taught via hands-on, interactive, inquiry-based learning in an authentic environment were later featured most prominently in the students’ poster-making discussions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)391-424
Number of pages34
JournalInstructional Science
Volume50
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Jun 2022

Keywords

  • Evolution
  • Informal learning environment
  • Knowledge integration activity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology

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