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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Exploring the status of science outreach in science teaching Friedman, Romy

Abstract

Despite the continued demonstration of the importance of science outreach programs to inspire student interest and motivation in science, my experience is that the science outreach programs are currently underutilized in schools. This is besides the fact that many stakeholders including students, teachers, parents, scientists, the community and society can potentially benefit from science outreach programs. With most studies focusing on assessing the impact of outreach on students, there remains a gap in research on the processes that are undertaken by teachers and outreach providers to create these opportunities. This mixed-methods study used scientist-in-residence outreach model, as reference because of its prominence in promoting science outreach in attempt to address this gap by investigating teachers’ science outreach practices in schools to better understand the decisions they make about the place or status of science outreach programs, in their teaching. The study objectives were to (1) investigate the science outreach practices of science teachers, focusing on how outreach is integrated into curricular and instructional practices; (2) explore how teachers and outreach providers implement various science outreach models, including any potential challenges to this; (3) propose a model that better utilizes the efforts of both these stakeholders, teachers and outreach providers, with the aim of improved communication, that both teachers and outreach providers can use to inspire student interest and motivation in science. This study took a mixed methods approach, using a quantitative survey-questionnaire and qualitative interviews to elicit information on the practices of both elementary and secondary teachers regarding various forms of science outreach. Interviews occur with teachers, scientists, and other members of non-profit organizations coordinating various science outreach programs. Organizations that use the scientists-in-residence outreach model were of particular interest. Analysis of the data corpus revealed engagement, access, costs and comfort with science as the challenges for implementing outreach programs. Moreover, attitude, delivery and use of a facilitator were determined as ways to overcome these challenges. Based on these insights an emergent model is proposed to assist both teachers and outreach providers in inspiring student interest and motivation in science through outreach programs.

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