Connecting Formal and Informal Learning Experiences

Principal Investigator: 
Project Overview
Background & Purpose: 

This study explores several different methods for integrating formal schooling with informal learning experiences that will increase science learning. This study is situated around the largest dam removal project in the world and focuses attention on a community that is revitalizing itself through the habitat restoration that is involved in the dam removal process. The study will eventually provide learning materials for people in other areas of the country to explore.


This project is located in Washington State, in the Olympic National Park.

Research Design: 

This is a cross-sectional and comparative study designed to generate descriptive observational, ethnographic, and design research evidence.

This project collects original data using diaries, assessments of learning, observational data by means of videography, interview survey research and teacher assessment of learning over time.


Participants who had agency over their outdoor science projects (compared to “assigned outdoor tasks that are typically used to teach them) outperformed participants in the “teacher assignment” groups. Furthermore, findings indicated that students who used videography to tell the story of their findings from a cultural/historical perspective outperformed participants who used PowerPoint to formalize and present their science projects. Prior to the work, evidence of student disconnection from their physical (local) environment was also found to be widespread across all cohorts and a general lack of spatial knowledge and sense of place was demonstrated.

Publications & Presentations: 

As publications become available we will forward them.

Other Products: 

No other products at this time.

Research Design: 


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