From Practice to Research: Engaging Science Communicators with Educational Research They Can Use

From Practice to Research: Engaging Science Communicators with Educational Research They Can Use


This project will advance efforts of the Innovative Technology Experiences for Students and Teachers (ITEST) program to better understand and promote practices that increase student motivations and capacities to pursue careers in fields of science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM). The project will develop and investigate the viability of a new kind of professional resource designed to inform the practical work of scientists, science communicators, and informal Science, Technology, Engine (STEM) educators undertaking efforts to engage children, youth, families and adults in STEM academic, career, and lifelong learning pathways. Scientists, science communicators and formal and informal science educators who engage the public with STEM (hereinafter "STEM communicators") seldom have formal training in education, and frequently are unfamiliar with well-established evidence-based approaches that are key to inclusive and effective pedagogies of engagement. The Research+Practice Collaboratory of the University of Washington has developed a new professional resource designed for K-12 leaders and educators called the practice brief, which has been widely disseminated and taken up in NGSS implementation efforts across the country. The project will develop and pilot a suite of  approximately 20 practice briefs with and for STEM communicators.

The results of this project will be (a) the documentation of research interests and needs of informal science eductors, developers, designers, science communicators and others (b) the establishment of evidence for whether or not the practice brief model is valuable to STEM educators and worthy of extension to new topics and uses.  The tools produced by this exploratory project can support the practices of these informal STEM educators, thus impacting the quality of programs they offer the public. Additionally, like their K-12 counterpart practice briefs, the proposed new set of briefs for STEM educators and others can potentially be scaled, through partnerships with large national associations such as the Association of Science-Technology Center, American Association for the Advancement of Science, National Alliance for Broadening Participation, and others, to inform the diverse science communication workforce, and to strengthen the quality and outcomes of their broader impacts work focused on youth engagement towards STEM workforce development.

This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.


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2019 - 2021


University of Washington Seattle, WA

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