Research Trends and Findings From a Decade (1997–2007) of Research on Informal Science Education and Free-Choice Science Learning
ABSTRACT The decade from 1997?2007 was transformative for research into science learning in out-of-school contexts. The field transitioned from being driven by individual programmatic needs into a field with a coherent conceptual framework to guide research. These changes are documented in the research published in International Journal of Science Education, Science Education, and Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 3 major peer-reviewed and social-science-indexed journals. As such they represent opportunities for researchers in the greater science education field to understand our research and our field. This article reviews 85 articles from these 3 journals and explores links among each study's research paradigms, methods of data collection, analysis, and study setting as a way to examine the field over the last decade. In addition to examining the body of research as a whole, the research published in these journals in 1997 and 2007 is also compared and contrasted to illuminate how the field has changed over the decade. This overview shows a field that is becoming more strongly rooted in a mix of the sociocultural and constructivist paradigms, with a growing acceptance of qualitative research methods and analyses.