1448 Views
  1. Ron Skinner
  2. Research & Evaluation Specialist
  3. Presenter’s NSFRESOURCECENTERS
  4. MOXI The Wolf Museum of Exploration + Innovation, University of California Santa Barbara
  1. Danielle Harlow
  2. Professor
  3. Presenter’s NSFRESOURCECENTERS
  4. University of California Santa Barbara
  1. Sarah Hough
  2. Project Scientist
  3. Presenter’s NSFRESOURCECENTERS
  4. University of California Santa Barbara
  1. Jasmine Marckwordt
  2. Graduate Student
  3. Presenter’s NSFRESOURCECENTERS
  4. University of California Santa Barbara
  1. Alexandria Muller
  2. https://www.alexandriamuller.com
  3. PhD Student
  4. Presenter’s NSFRESOURCECENTERS
  5. University of California Santa Barbara
  1. Kaia Joye Wesolowski
  2. https://www.linkedin.com/in/kj-wesolowski/
  3. Director of Learning Experiences
  4. Presenter’s NSFRESOURCECENTERS
  5. MOXI The Wolf Museum of Exploration + Innovation
Facilitators’
Choice

Informal STEM Facilitator Training Program

NSF Awards: 1906320, 1906322

2021 (see original presentation & discussion)

Grades K-6, Grades 6-8, Grades 9-12, Adult learners, Informal / multi-age, All Age Groups

MOXI, The Wolf Museum of Exploration + Innovation and UC-Santa Barbara are collaborating on an NSF-AISL grant-funded project to develop a framework for facilitation and model for training for informal science institutions. Learning by engaging in the practices of a discipline (practice-based learning) provides museum visitors with opportunities to construct understandings that build on their prior experiences and interests. However, effectively facilitating such learning experiences is difficult. We present a framework and training model that supports facilitators in providing practice-based facilitation, which begins with observations of how visitors engage with an exhibit and expands and deepens visitors’ use of disciplinary practices. The framework links exhibit-specific observations of visitor engagement to STEM practices (e.g., making observations, testing ideas, defining problems, arguing from evidence, using conceptual models) and provides three pathways related directly to the visitor’s experience that inform facilitation moves. The training model is a year-long program that includes both university courses and twenty-hours of paid time at an interactive science center, culminating in a certificate of Informal STEM Learning. Three 12-hour training modules that are a subset of the year-long training program are being developed. We are currently recruiting institutions to test these modules starting in January, 2022.

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Discussion from the 2021 STEM For All Video Showcase (31 posts)
  • Icon for: Ron Skinner

    Ron Skinner

    Lead Presenter
    Research & Evaluation Specialist
    May 10, 2021 | 06:14 p.m.

    Welcome!

    MOXI, The Wolf Museum of Exploration + Innovation in Santa Barbara, California, is a new museum that was designed to engage visitors of all ages in constructing understanding of STEM topics through interactive engagement in STEM practices. Exhibits have multiple entry points and allow for a range of learning goals. Engaging visitors in STEM practices requires a different approach to facilitation than more traditional content-based museum experiences. To support visitor learning, we developed the practice-based facilitation model. Practice-based facilitation includes strategies for observing visitors, identifying the STEM practices they are engaging in, and making decisions about whether to prompt visitors to optimize their use of a specific STEM practice, expand the visitor’s use of other STEM practices, or change the level of sophistication of their engagement with the exhibit. This model requires training staff to observe visitors and make facilitation decisions. 

    We developed a year-long informal STEM facilitator training program. The participants of this training program enter as a cohort and go through the program together, culminating in a professional Certificate in Informal STEM Learning, awarded through the University of California, Santa Barbara. The program has two interrelated components: (1) Part-time paid work as a MOXI facilitator and (2) Coursework directly tied to their work at MOXI. The participants interact with visitors at exhibits on the museum floor and through activities at program carts and educational programs. They also work with students in schools during outreach programs and field trip programs.

    We are investigating the facilitator learning and visitor experience and are developing short modules from our training program that can be replicated in other institutions. We are currently recruiting staff at other informal science institutions to test these modules in early 2022. If you are interested in using the modules for staff training and providing feedback please let us know in the comments. You can visit our project website for more information and links to publications at https://moxi.education.ucsb.edu/moxi-apprentice-program. If you or someone you know are interested in joining the next MOXI Apprentice Program cohort, see https://www.moxi.org/explore/apprentice-program for more details.

     
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    Shane Woods
  • Icon for: Judy Brown

    Judy Brown

    Informal Educator
    May 10, 2021 | 06:16 p.m.

    Are the modules available online?

  • Icon for: Ron Skinner

    Ron Skinner

    Lead Presenter
    Research & Evaluation Specialist
    May 11, 2021 | 11:16 a.m.

    Hi Judy,

    We are currently developing the training modules as a subset of our yearlong training program and will begin testing them externally with recruited institutions in early 2022. Each of the three 12-hour training modules will build on the skills developed in the previous module. Our intention is to eventually make these modules publicly available, but part of our testing will be to determine if the modules are successfully implemented as is or require a train-the-trainer module.

     
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    Preeti Gupta
  • Icon for: Kim Koin

    Kim Koin

    Informal Educator
    May 11, 2021 | 10:28 a.m.

     Hi Ron!

    Chicago Children's Museum is looking to open this summer. I would love to hear more about using the modules for staff training. I was able to take your half day training at the last in-person ASTC, and had a blast!

     
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    Tsivia Cohen
  • Icon for: Danielle Harlow

    Danielle Harlow

    Co-Presenter
    Professor
    May 11, 2021 | 11:12 a.m.

    Hi Kim! Thanks for stopping by and great to hear from you. We will reach out to you about using the modules. -- Danielle 

  • Icon for: Jan Smith

    Jan Smith

    Higher Ed Faculty
    May 11, 2021 | 10:33 a.m.

    This is fantastic!  This really highlights the value of informal STEM education and how impactful the interactions can be.  I wonder if any of your graduates will consider STEM teaching as a result of their experiences.  Well done.

     
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    Shane Woods
  • Icon for: Danielle Harlow

    Danielle Harlow

    Co-Presenter
    Professor
    May 11, 2021 | 11:11 a.m.

    Yes! One of our graduates is now a high school physics teacher and two are enrolled in elementary teacher credential programs. Two other graduates are in a Ph.D. program studying STEM education. 

     
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    Jan Smith
  • Icon for: Folashade Solomon

    Folashade Solomon

    Facilitator
    Senior Researcher
    May 11, 2021 | 12:38 p.m.

    I can see from the video that the on-the museum floor facilitator component of your project helped the trainees learn a lot.  I bet this experience helped your trainees (like this comment suggests) get a real taste for teaching.  What have you learned from the "on the museum floor "component of the training program that other teacher educators might apply to their contexts?

  • Icon for: Danielle Harlow

    Danielle Harlow

    Co-Presenter
    Professor
    May 11, 2021 | 12:48 p.m.

    Yes. I co-direct the MOXI program and teach Elementary Science Methods in UCSB's teacher education program. I have applied a lot of what we learn from informal education facilitation to my science methods class for teachers. Thinking about how to engage visitors who have more agency has helped me think about how to help teachers engage children by setting up experiences that invite them to learn. Also (in non-covid years) I set up the final project for my students to be an event that they engage the public in science through activities they design to help them think about engaging learners in science phenomena and engineering design tasks. We also have a separate grant (not featured in the showcase) that places prospective teachers (undergraduates thinking about going into a teacher education program) in placements at MOXI so that they gain experience in informal education before entering a formal teacher education program. Thanks for the great question. 

     
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    Shane Woods
    Folashade Solomon
  • Icon for: Jamie Bell

    Jamie Bell

    Facilitator
    Project Director
    May 11, 2021 | 11:34 a.m.

    Thank you for this presentation, and congratulations on your approach to integrating research and practice in a way that honors the wisdom of practitioners' observations while drawing on knowledge from scholarship. Were there particular studies of any others, or theory that informed the framework that you are using? 

  • Icon for: Danielle Harlow

    Danielle Harlow

    Co-Presenter
    Professor
    May 11, 2021 | 12:51 p.m.

    Thank you, Jamie. In the initial development, we drew on many studies and frameworks from both formal and informal education including the Ambitious Science Teaching framework (Windshitl et al.), Visitor Context (Falk and Dierking), and Active Prolonged Engagement (Exploratorium). We also conducted a survey of experts in the field (museum CEOs, Education Directors, Researchers) about what they thought were the most important practices for facilitators to develop in a training. 

     
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    Shane Woods
    Tsivia Cohen
  • Icon for: Danielle Harlow

    Danielle Harlow

    Co-Presenter
    Professor
    May 11, 2021 | 01:19 p.m.

    Also, we looked at other existing facilitator training programs - the Explainers model at the Exploratorium and Reflecting on Practice (RoP) at Lawrence Hall of Science. In fact, earlier this year, we participated in ROP's training and have started integrating some of what we learned from that program into our training. 

     
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    Discussion is closed. Upvoting is no longer available

    Shane Woods
    Tsivia Cohen
    Preeti Gupta
  • Icon for: Jamie Bell

    Jamie Bell

    Facilitator
    Project Director
    May 14, 2021 | 07:42 a.m.

    Thank you Danielle! It's wonderful to hear you are building on previous, and bringing new knowledge to the field in this important, frontline area of work in our field. Facilitation is an art as well as a science and I love that you have chosen "sparks," as it so accurately captures what so often happens in rich micro-interactions on the floors of museums and science centers every day (and will again soon!) Please let us know how we can help disseminate your findings as they continue to emerge. 

  • May 11, 2021 | 02:30 p.m.

    Good to see this video. As you already know, I am a big fan of this project. After being on pause for a year, our floor facilitation program is starting back up at AMNH. We have a group of ten college students starting this summer and the training period is the month of June. We are planning to incorporate what we have learned from you in terms of the matrix of engagement levels and practices of science for select exhibits in our new Gems and Minerals Hall and also our Hall of Planet Earth. Expect an email from me asking for advice and support!

     
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    Kaia Joye Wesolowski
  • Icon for: Ron Skinner

    Ron Skinner

    Lead Presenter
    Research & Evaluation Specialist
    May 11, 2021 | 02:38 p.m.

    Hi Preeti! Thanks for your comments. We are eager to see how you will incorporate Practice-based Facilitation in the staff training model for AMNH's new exhibits. And how exciting that AMNH will emerge from the pandemic with two new halls! I'm ready to fly to NYC just to see them!!!

  • Icon for: Toby Baker

    Toby Baker

    Researcher
    May 12, 2021 | 02:44 p.m.

    Wow! The apprentice program is really great. I love that it is hands on and engages learners at the site. I am glad that you are starting again soon. This looks like an excellent STEM training program and I bet apprentices go on to do really interesting careers!

  • Icon for: Kaia Joye Wesolowski

    Kaia Joye Wesolowski

    Co-Presenter
    Director of Learning Experiences
    May 12, 2021 | 03:20 p.m.

    Thanks so much Toby! The program has been integral to our staffing model by reducing staff turnover and equipping staff for more advanced interactions with our visitors. Graduates have gone on to a pretty diverse set of careers, including taking on leadership positions at MOXI and other informal learning institutions, entering into teacher credential programs, teaching in public and private schools, or entering graduate programs in education, environmental science, and medical school. 

     
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    Shane Woods
  • Icon for: Karen Hammerness

    Karen Hammerness

    Researcher
    May 12, 2021 | 09:40 p.m.

    So interesting, Ron. Would love to hear more about this. We are thinking a lot about how we can enact and study specific teaching practices in the context of a science museum, and also what it looks like to bring in culturally relevant frameworks to that work. Would love to hear more about the frameworks you are using to select and choose the practices you focus upon. A practice-based facilitation model sounds like it has a lot of connection to the preparation of teachers through a focus on practice; was that also an influence? This sounds wonderful and so influential. 

  • Icon for: Danielle Harlow

    Danielle Harlow

    Co-Presenter
    Professor
    May 13, 2021 | 10:24 a.m.

    Hi Karen - Great to hear from you! Yes, our program does draw from work on the preparation of teachers. I co-direct the MAPS program and teach in UCSB's teacher education program. So, much of what we started with came from teacher education and has been adapted for the informal environment. (Of course, my science methods course for teachers has also changed over time by what I'm learning from working in the informal environment!) We originally drew on work from teacher education (Ambitious Science Teaching responsive science teaching) and work in informal education (e.g., Falk & Dierking's contextual model for learning, Active Prolonged Engagement and the Explainers model from the Exploratorium). The STEM practices we drew from NGSS science and engineering practices plus Cunningham and Kelly's engineering epistemic practices. The actual practices we focus on have evolved from those original frameworks. I'm interested in hearing more about your program also. 

     
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    Shane Woods
    Karen Hammerness
  • Icon for: Sarah Hough

    Sarah Hough

    Co-Presenter
    Project Scientist
    May 13, 2021 | 11:45 a.m.

    Thanks for your question Karen.  As Danielle mentioned in response  to the question by Folashade above, practice based facilitation can be used to inform the work of classroom teachers as well as facilitators in informal settings.
    The framework that guides the work draws on a constructivist theory of learning, the epistemic processes that scientists engage in and the learning goals of informal science. At the intersection of these constructs is learner engagement in experiences that align with participation in STEM disciplines (such as planning and carrying out investigations, defining problems, developing models and constructing explanations). These are the "practices" of practice based facilitation. Work that guides the selection of the facilitation or teaching strategies that MAPS develop in order to  engage the learner in these practices, as Danielle mentioned in her response to Jamie, draws from such varied work as Ambitious Science Teaching (Windshilt, et. al), Visito Conext (Falk and Dierking and Active Prolonged Engagement( Exploratorium)
    Please tell us more about your work.
     

     
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    Karen Hammerness
  • Icon for: Ron Skinner

    Ron Skinner

    Lead Presenter
    Research & Evaluation Specialist
    May 13, 2021 | 11:52 a.m.

    Just to clarify, in the two posts above Danielle and Sarah refer to "MAPS" that is how we refer to the participants in our staff training program - the "MOXI Apprentice Program for Sparks" where "Sparks" is the name we use to refer to the museum floor staff. MOXI's mission is to ignite learning through interactive experiences in science and creativity. Our floor staff provides the spark to ignite learning!

  • Icon for: Laura Seifert

    Laura Seifert

    Higher Ed Administrator
    May 13, 2021 | 10:04 a.m.

    This seems like a really fantastic program - congratulations! What advice would you have for programs that would like to engage with the general public in this way, provide professional development to volunteers, but that do not have the ability to recruit volunteers for this level of time commitment/investment in training? For example - our volunteers are often only coming in to work for an event with the public that is a 4 hour shift once a year. We'd love to have deeper and more meaningful engagement in our exhibit and content (and stronger training for the volunteers), but 36 hours of training for a 4 hour volunteer opportunity isn't feasible. Is there a way to scale this? 

  • Icon for: Danielle Harlow

    Danielle Harlow

    Co-Presenter
    Professor
    May 13, 2021 | 10:27 a.m.

    Excellent question! We are developing shorter modules that could be used in this way. We have tested some ideas out in full-day, half-day, and 90 minute workshops at ASTC (Association of Science and Technology Centers) conferences. We plan to be able to provide resources for multiple durations of trainings to fit a range of institutional training needs. 

     
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    Discussion is closed. Upvoting is no longer available

    Shane Woods
    Laura Seifert
  • Icon for: Leigh Peake

    Leigh Peake

    Informal Educator
    May 13, 2021 | 02:36 p.m.

    Fascinating project and I love MOXI's focus on the practices of the STEM disciplines. Have you considered having classroom teachers go through the training (in addition to what Danielle is doing bringing it into preservice coursework)? We are playing with this -- supporting classroom teachers' understanding of the practices using our informal space and then thinking through the translation back to the classroom. I know many informal institutions do this kind of thing, but your focus on practices has unique potential!

  • Icon for: Sarah Hough

    Sarah Hough

    Co-Presenter
    Project Scientist
    May 13, 2021 | 02:49 p.m.

    Thanks for your question Leigh. Danielle and Ron may want to talk more about classroom teachers going through the MAPS training. In addition to the preservice coursework that Danielle mentions above, she is also currently Co-PI of a Noyce grant in which both preservice Noyce scholars  (completing single subject credentials in STEM) and undergraduate Noyce Interns (with interest in pursuing a minor in education) experience a museum placement (as well as one in a high school engineering academy) to foster their own understandings of the practices and learning about how to engage students with them.

     
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    Leigh Peake
  • Icon for: Lauren Pagano

    Lauren Pagano

    Graduate Student
    May 14, 2021 | 11:42 a.m.

    This is a fantastic video! The research-practitioner partnership is so important for developing effective learning opportunities in museum settings. I especially love that the MOXI facilitation staff are able to use paid work hours to consistently develop facilitation skills and that the program is presented as an "apprenticeship." I also thought it was great that you had facilitators read research articles during this program. I will look forward to hearing more about your work in the future, especially when this training program reaches a point where it can be shared with other museums!

    In the work I've done in museums, I've seen that facilitators are sometimes hesitant to participate in research or worry that being documented/recorded will negatively affect their job. How did you approach facilitation staff and get them excited about actively participating in research? 

  • Icon for: Ron Skinner

    Ron Skinner

    Lead Presenter
    Research & Evaluation Specialist
    May 14, 2021 | 12:35 p.m.

    Hi Lauren,

    Our facilitators spend 800-1,000 hours on the museum floor as part of their training and are asked regularly to video record their interactions with visitors, write reflective notes, be interviewed, and complete surveys. We build a culture of collaborative reflective practice (informed by Reflecting on Practice (RoP) methods) where reflective notes, interviews, and video recordings are shared and discussed among the cohort members as a tool for growth as facilitators. They are active participants in the research both as subjects and researchers from the beginning of the program. For instance, the facilitator decides how to best capture their floor facilitation on video. They then analyze the footage they captured and select examples of what they feel best represents their interactions with visitors. The project researchers along with the cohort members then examine the video clips together so that being recorded becomes viewed more as a learning tool for the group rather than something they are being individually judged on. This participation in the research helps in their reading of research articles and transference of knowledge from research to practice.

  • Icon for: Shane Woods

    Shane Woods

    Facilitator
    Senior Director, STEM Center of Excellence
    May 15, 2021 | 03:45 p.m.

    This practice based facilitation model is absolutely the right answer for informal ed spaces looking for a solution to sustainable recruitment and retention. As you are building out options for those with much smaller commitments, have you been able to reach out to other informal education providers that are not museums or science centers?

  • Icon for: Alexandria Muller

    Alexandria Muller

    Co-Presenter
    PhD Student
    May 15, 2021 | 04:55 p.m.

    Hi Shane, thank you for the question! At this point in the project, our work has been focused primarily on museum spaces; however, there is definitely the possibility for this to be applied to other informal education spaces. We are in the process of expanding our partnership community to include such informal spaces like school gardens or even formal spaces like teacher education programs so hopefully future work will incorporate their needs and uses of our program. If you have any insight or suggestions for us on how we might expand the scope of our project to include these spaces, we'd love to hear your ideas. 

  • May 17, 2021 | 02:00 p.m.

    Excellent project, thank you for sharing your work!  Could you speak more about how you chose and prioritized topics to focus on during the coursework portion of the training?  Did you conduct a needs assessment to inform your program design?  If so, I'm curious as to what your learned.  Thank you!

     

  • Icon for: Ron Skinner

    Ron Skinner

    Lead Presenter
    Research & Evaluation Specialist
    May 17, 2021 | 02:30 p.m.

    Hi Elysa,

    We initially conducted a survey of experts in the field (museum CEOs, Education Directors, Researchers) about what they thought were the most important practices for facilitators to develop in a training program. In parallel to that survey we began to focus on how our museum visitors engaged in STEM practices at our exhibits and also what engagement with practices was possible at each exhibit. We then studied how different facilitation techniques affected outcomes for our visitors and created a framework for facilitation (see the Journal of Museum Education article on our project website for details). We drew on many studies and frameworks from both formal and informal education including the Ambitious Science Teaching framework (Windshitl et al.), Visitor Context (Falk and Dierking), and Active Prolonged Engagement (Exploratorium). In addition, we connected with an amazing improvisational theater teacher early on and began adapting improv training for our facilitators. The curriculum in our yearlong training program has been modified each year (of the four years we have operated the program) to incorporate what we have learned and adjust and improve the curriculum.

    This year we have distilled our curriculum into three 12-hour training modules that we will test at other informal learning institutions in 2022. These modules build on each other to develop Practice-based Facilitation techniques through workshop-style training such that new-hire visitor-facing floor staff could be up and running with the first module (4 3-hour sessions, or 6 2-hour sessions, or even 2 6-hour sessions). Subsequent modules could build on that training for more senior visitor-facing floor staff and/or back of house staff.

     
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    Elysa Corin
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