Heather to chair AERA’s Informal Learning Environments Research group for 2019-20

Heather is chairing AERA’s Informal Learning Environments Research group for 2019-2020. The group is dedicated to furthering educational research in informal learning environments and to promote a community practice interested in establishing and maintaining a better understanding of learning in multiple out-of-school time environments. Members are researchers and practitioners focusing on equity, inclusion, and access to learning in libraries, museums, community-based organizations, hobbies, outdoor education, and everyday settings.

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Informal Learning Environments Research
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Our purpose is to further educational research in informal learning environments and to promote a community practice interested in establishing and ma…


STEM Pillars research presented at IDC 2019 in Boise, ID!

The team is presenting two papers from our STEM Pillars project at the 2019 ACM Interaction Design and Children (IDC).  One presentation is on Sue Kim’s dissertation work on creative engineering practices and the other presentation is on how discussion prompts can support families’ work in astro-engineering.  See the Publications page of this blog for copies of the papers.

Check out STEM Pillars 3-min video!

Our team is highlighting our IMLS-funded STEM Pillars project on the STEM for All Video Hall.  Our 3-minute video describes our design-based research project where we are working with rural libraries and museums to create programs to help smaller institutions serve their communities.

STEM Pillars 3-minute video



NARST 2019 and AERA 2019 Team Presentations

The Augmented and Mobile Learning Research Group will be in Baltimore for NARST and in Toronto for AERA this week and next week to present our research!

Please see the included PDF for a full listing of presenting authors and where and when to find them: 2019_Conference_Presentation_Flyer-1707143

Join our team — we are hiring a full-time Lab Manager!

The College of Education at Penn State seeks candidates for the position of Lab Manager/Human Research Technologist with the Augmented and Mobile Learning Research (AMLR) Group. The AMLR group (https://sites.psu.edu/augmentedlearning/about-us/stem-pillars//) conducts video-based research studies in libraries, museums, summer camps, gardens, and nature centers. The successful candidate will work on a 4-year NSF-funded study investigating how rural families and youths can best learn science with mobile computers. The position involves overseeing a dynamic team: organizing the group’s schedule, recruiting research participants, scheduling 30 workshops per year, developing appropriate databases, and managing the daily lab operation (which includes equipment oversight, supply orders, managing project finances, updating websites, updating existing IRB protocols, and similar tasks). Duties also include preparing materials for studies, conducting video-based data collection on weekends and early evenings from spring to fall (~30 evenings/weekend days per year); and completing video digitizing and archiving. Travel to data collection sites in Centre, Blair, and Huntingdon counties is required. This position requires that you operate a motor vehicle as a part of your job duties. A valid driver’s license and successful completion of a motor vehicle records check will be required in addition to standard background checks. Typically requires an Associate’s degree or higher plus two years of related experience, or an equivalent combination of education and experience. A Bachelor’s degree is preferred. The successful candidate will have strong computer skills (Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint) and willingness to learn additional computer skills related to data management, preparation, analysis, and archiving. Applicants should have excellent interpersonal, communication, and organizational skills – with the ability to manage multiple simultaneous projects. Interested applicants should upload a cover letter, a CV/resume, and contact information for three references. This is a fixed-term appointment funded for one year from date of hire with strong possibility of re-funding. 
Apply online at https://psu.jobs/job/80555 To review the Annual Security Report which contains information about crime statistics and other safety and security matters and policies, please go to https://police.psu.edu/annual-security-reports, which will also explain how to request a paper copy of the Annual Security Report. 
Penn State is an equal opportunity, affirmative action employer, and is committed to providing employment opportunities to all qualified applicants without regard to race, color, religion, age, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, disability or protected veteran status.

Heather, Susan, and team awarded IMLS grant to investigate learning in rural libraries and museums

Our team from Penn State’s College of Education in partnership with the Schlow Centre Region Library, the Centre County Library, Discovery Space of Central Pennsylvania, and Shaver’s Creek Environmental Center received a federal research grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services.  Together, we will explore how to best support family science learning as we work with STEM professionals from Penn State University, local businesses, and a rural county agency.

The project will use design-based research methods to iteratively develop family workshops on five personally relevant science themes that foster science conversations and intergenerational learning:

  • Engineering my World (engineering)
  • Weather Where I am (meteorology)
  • Water Quality in my Community (toxicology, watershed monitoring)
  • Plants around Us (botany, genetics, pollination)
  • My Happy Valley Sky (astronomy)

The research team will examine questions including, How can intergenerational library and museum experiences use STEM expert narratives effectively to make the science present in the community more visible and relevant? The project will result in a model for personally relevant informal education that brings together community science topics, hands-on inquiry, and personal stories from STEM experts in order to help museum and library professionals learn where and how to place STEM experts’ stories within programs; engage parents in their children’s learning; and position children as knowledge builders in STEM content areas.   

Heather and Susan collaborate on Robert Wood Johnson Foundation grant

Award Announcement/News Story (November, 2015): Heather Zimmerman and Susan Land are collaborating with PI Nina Jablonski (Penn State, Anthropology)  to study personalized genetics and genealogy during a summer camp experience. PSU News Story:  “Penn State, Harvard team up to enhance science education for minority students”. http://news.psu.edu/story/379772/2015/11/10/academics/penn-state-harvard-team-enhance-science-education-minority.

Heather, Susan, and Chris Millet featured in news story on iBeacons research

PSU News Story:  Learning Beneath the Trees (September, 2015): Land, Zimmerman, and Millet featured in Penn State IT News on our COIL-funded research with iBeacons for outdoor learning spaces: https://news.it.psu.edu/article/learning-beneath-trees

Heather, Susan, and team present new findings at IDC 2015!

We presented new findings in a paper at the Interaction Design and Children  conference in Boston, MA, USA in June 2015.  Through work supporting tablet-mediated science learning during summer camp, our team discussed how children’s science talk was supported by our Tree Investigator mobile app.  We found that children’s conceptual talk (claims) had less evidence provided when the children worked in peer-peer groups. When supported by an adult naturalist, children gave more descriptive evidence from their observation of trees to support their conceptual claims.  We interpret this to mean that in tablet-mediated science learning in informal settings, an expert guide can be an important resource when children are learning complex ecological content.

Zimmerman, H. T., Land, S. M., Mohney, M. R., Maggiore, C., Kim, S. H., Choi, G. W., Jung, Y. J. & Dudek, J. (2015). Using augmented reality to support observations about trees during summer camp. Proceedings of the Interaction Design and Children. Pp. 395-398. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1145/2771839.2771925

Susan and team win AERA SIG Instructional Technology (SIG IT) best paper award.

Susan led our team on a paper that won the best paper award for the American Education Research Association (AERA) Special Interest Group Instructional Technology (SIG IT).

Land, S. M., Zimmerman, H. T., Seely, B. J., Mohney, M. R., Dudek, J., Jung, Y., & Choi, G. W., (2015, April). Photo-capture and annotations supporting observations in outdoor mobile learning. 2015 Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association. Chicago, IL.

SIG IT best paper award

SIG IT best paper award for 2015