Semester of Graduation

August 2018

Degree

Master of Arts in Education (MAE)

Department

Human Sciences & Education

Document Type

Thesis

Abstract

This qualitative research study aims to answer the question of whether or not informal learning settings, such as museums and zoos, are beneficial to students’ understanding of new science concepts and the nature of science. The researcher uses the term, “informal educators,” to refer to the participants because they are educators who teach in settings outside of a school setting. This study focuses on four informal educators that are employed at four different informal learning settings in South Louisiana, but specifically how the informal educators’ instruction complements classroom instruction, how informal educators incorporate inquiry within their science instruction, and what image of science informal educators hope to portray to the guests at their museums or zoos. Data was collected through interviews with informal science educators, observations of the informal settings’ web pages, and documents of instructional materials offered by the informal learning site. After the data were analyzed using the structural coding and open coding method, the findings revealed that two out of the four informal educators were willing to work with formal educators to make sure that they are covering topics in their museum or zoo that complemented the instruction that students were learning in the classroom. The informal educators’ responses to interview questions revealed that all of them incorporate inquiry throughout science instruction using a hands-on learning approach. Additionally, it was revealed that the informal educators had varying views on what image of science that they hoped to portray in their museum or zoo.

Date

7-6-2018

Committee Chair

Webb, Angela

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