ERIC Number: EJ1065411
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2015
Abstractor: As Provided
Benefits of Informal Learning Environments: A Focused Examination of STEM-Based Program Environments
Denson, Cameron D.; Austin Stallworth, Chandra; Hailey, Christine; Householder, Daniel L.
Journal of STEM Education: Innovations and Research, v16 n1 p11-15 Jan-Apr 2015
This paper examines STEM-based informal learning environments for underrepresented students and reports on the aspects of these programs that are beneficial to students. This qualitative study provides a nuanced look into informal learning environments and determines what is unique about these experiences and makes them beneficial for students. We provide results of a qualitative research study conducted with the Mathematics, Engineering, Science Achievement (MESA) program, an informal learning environment that has proven to be effective in recruiting, retaining and encouraging underrepresented students to pursue STEM careers. Using a grounded theory approach, focus group interviews were conducted with five student groups throughout the state of California in an effort to "unpack the activity" variables of the informal learning environment. Results of this study should inform formal learning environments and other informal learning environments as to the components that make these learning environments effective and appealing to underrepresented students populations.
Descriptors: Informal Education, Educational Environment, STEM Education, Qualitative Research, Disproportionate Representation, Vocational Interests, Focus Groups, Interviews, Grounded Theory, Mentors, Learning Processes, Time Management, Self Efficacy, Collegiality, Need Gratification, Educational Opportunities, Science Education, Predictor Variables, Student Surveys
Institute for STEM Education and Research. P.O. Box 4001, Auburn, AL 36831. Tel: 334-844-3360; Web site: http://www.jstem.org
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Sponsor: National Science Foundation
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Arizona; California; Colorado; Maryland; New Mexico; Oregon; Pennsylvania; Utah; Washington
Grant or Contract Numbers: 1020019