Journal Publications

This is a collection of recent articles published in peer-reviewed publications’ written by staff or other leaders in STEM education and learning. When possible we have linked to the original online sources.


Turning the King Tide: Understanding Dialogue and Principal Drivers in an Online Co-Created Investigation
Karen Peterman, Christine Bevc, Ruth Kermish-Allen
Year: 2019
Publisher: Citizen Science: Theory and Practice
Online learning communities for citizen science have been growing in number and scale in recent years. The WeatherBlur project was designed to apply knowledge-building theory to a non-hierarchical online citizen science community for students in grades three to eight, their teachers, and scientists. This case study explores one investigation to determine the kinds of interactions that encouraged online knowledge-building and the individuals who served as the key drivers for the investigation.

The utility of citizen science projects in K-5 schools: measures of community engagement and student impacts

Ruth Kermish-Allen, Karen Peterman & Christine Bevc
Year: 2019
Publisher: Cultural Studies of Science Education
The field of citizen science is one of the fastest growing sectors in informal education, specifically because of the new opportunities that are now available within today’s digitized and networked world. This paper describes a unique co-created citizen science project, WeatherBlur, which brought fishermen, elementary students, and teachers from island and coastal communities together with research scientists via an online platform to share, analyze, and interpret data about the local impact of climate change.

Using Q-Sort Methodology to test the Non-hierarchical Online Learning Community (NHOLC) Framework
Ruth Kermish-Allen, Kate Kastelein
Year: 2018
Publisher: The Journal of Community Informatics
The Non-Hierarchical Online Learning Community (NHOLC) conceptual framework was designed to leverage the understanding of sociocultural learning theory and community informatics to inform design principles for citizen science online learning communities that inspire online collaboration and local environmental action. The study presented here applies the NHOLC framework, using a Q-Sort methodology, to three online learning communities for citizens that were successful in fostering online collaboration and environmental actions. The findings of this paper provide tangible design principles that can be used to develop or revise online learning communities for citizen science instead of re-inventing the wheel for each newly emerging project.

Design Principles of Online Learning Communities in Citizen Science
Ruth Kermish-Allen
Year: 2017
Publisher: Maine Policy Review
Online communities for citizen science are expanding rapidly, giving participants the opportunity to take part in a wide range of activities, from monitoring invasive species to targeting pollution sources. These communities bring together the virtual and physical worlds in new ways that are egalitarian, collaborative, applied, localized and globalized to solve real environmental problems. Rural communities especially can leverage these learning and sharing spaces to take advantage of resources they would otherwise not be able to access. A small number of citizen science projects truly use an online community to connect, engage, and empower participants to make local change happen. This multiple case study looked at three online citizen communities that have successfully fostered online collaboration and on-the-ground environmental actions. The findings provide insight into potential design principles for online citizen science communities that support environmental actions in our backyards.

Toward a Sociocultural Learning Theory Framework to Designing Online learning Communities in Citizen Science
Ruth Kermish-Allen, Kate Kastelein
Year: 2017
Publisher: The Journal of Community Informatics
How can sociocultural learning theory inform design principles for citizen science online learning communities to inspire local environmental action? The purpose of this article is to identify themes in sociocultural learning theory that could inform the use and development of highly collaborative online learning communities that utilize community informatics tools for citizen science to enable on-the-ground environmental actions.

Measuring Primary Students – Graph Interpretation Skills Via a Performance Assessment: A Case Study in Instrument Development
Karen Peterman, Kayla A. Cranston, Marie Pryor, & Ruth Kermish-Allen
Year: 2015
Publisher: International Journal of Science Education
This case study was conducted within the context of a place-based education project that was implemented with primary school students in the USA. The authors and participating teachers created a performance assessment of standards-aligned tasks to examine 6 to 10-year-old students graph interpretation skills as part of an exploratory research project. Fifty-five students participated in a performance assessment interview at the beginning and end of a place-based investigation. Students proficiency with interpreting different types of graphs matched expectations based on age and the standards-based progression of graphs across primary school grades. The assessment tasks were also effective at detecting pre-post gains in students interpretation of line graphs and dot plots after the place-based project. The results of the case study are discussed in relation to the common challenges associated with performance assessment. Implications are presented in relation to the need for authentic and performance-based instructional and assessment tasks to respond to the Common Core State Standards and the Next Generation Science Standards.

Communities for Rural Education, Stewardship, and Technology (CREST): A Rural Model for Teacher Professional Development
Shey Conover, Ruth Kermish-Allen, Robert Snyder
Year: 2013
Publisher: Springer
Communities for Rural Education, Stewardship, and Technology (CREST): A Rural Model for Teacher Professional Development is a chapter in Teaching Science and Investigating Environmental Issues with Geospatial Technology: Designing Effective Professional Development for Teachers, published in 2013 by Springer Publishing Company. The chapter examines a model of professional development created with the goals of building greater teacher IT fluency and of increasing student interest in and awareness of STEM fields.

Student and Teacher Teams Using High Resolution Electricity Monitoring to Create Local Change
Ruth Kermish-Allen, Karen Peterman, Suzanne MacDonald, Rachel Thompson and Brooks Winner
Year: 2015
Publisher: Journal of Sustainability Education
The Energy for ME program, funded by the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Science Foundation, worked across formal and informal K-12 environments to bridge the gap between society, science, and the environment. Energy for ME integrated three experiential education pedagogies (place-based education, inquiry, and project-based learning) in combination with real-world electricity data in order to impact energy consumption within participating communities. Energy for ME schools and communities have saved over $135,000 in homeowner electricity costs, 900,000 lbs of carbon, and 1,000,000 kWh of energy) in electricity costs over the 3 years of the project.

STEM Education Policy in Maine and the Nation
Thomas E. Keller
Year: 2012
Publisher: Maine Policy Review, a Publication of the Margaret Chase Smith Policy Center, University of Maine
Dr. Tom Keller provides an overview of K-12 STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) education policy in Maine and the nation, and makes recommendations for several agencies in the state. He argues that although standards and assessment are important, there need to be corresponding changes in instructional materials methods and in school culture. Although we do not yet have a fully integrated STEM curriculum, Keller suggests that we are overdue for interdisciplinary work where possible.

Learning Science in Informal Environments: People, Places, and Pursuits
Philip Bell, Bruce Lewenstein, Andrew W. Shouse, and Michael A. Feder, Editors; Committee on Learning Science in Informal Environments; Board on Science Education; Center for Education; Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education; National Research Council
Year: 2009
Publisher: National Academies Press
Learning Science in Informal Environments draws together disparate literatures, synthesizes the state of knowledge, and articulates a common framework for the next generation of research on learning science in informal environments across a life span. Contributors include recognized experts in a range of disciplines–research and evaluation, exhibit designers, program developers, and educators. They also have experience in a range of settings–museums, after-school programs, science and technology centers, media enterprises, aquariums, zoos, state parks, and botanical gardens.Learning Science in Informal Environments is an invaluable guide for program and exhibit designers, evaluators, staff of science-rich informal learning institutions and community-based organizations, scientists interested in educational outreach, federal science agency education staff, and K-12 science educators.

Outside the Pipeline: Re-imagining Science Education for Non-scientists
Noah Weeth Feinstein, Sue Allen, & Edgar Jenkins
Year: 2013
Publisher: Science
Educational policy increasingly emphasizes knowledge and skills for the pre-professional science pipeline rather than helping students use science in daily life. We synthesize research on public engagement with science to develop a research-based plan for cultivating competent outsiders: nonscientists who can access and make sense of science relevant to their lives. Schools should help students access and interpret the science they need in response to specific practical problems, judge the credibility of scientific claims based on both evidence and institutional cues, and cultivate deep amateur involvement in science.

A Review of Progressive Museum Practice: John Dewey and Democracy by G.E. Hein
Sue Allen
Year: 2015
Publisher: Curator: The Museum Journal
A Review of Progressive Museum Practice: John Dewey and Democracy by George Hein. Curator: The Museum Journal, 57: 387 391. doi: 10.1111/cura.12077

Service-Learning as a Tool for Meeting the Needs of All Learners: Lessons from One Maine School District’s Implementation
Jo Gates, Fran Rudoff, Tracy Harkins, and Joanne Harriman
Year: 2011
Publisher: Maine Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development
Developing an educational framework that integrates service-learning involves four key elements: leadership and vision; professional development; curriculum, instruction, and assessment; and community partnerships. The experiences of the Mount Desert Island Regional School System are instructive for anyone exploring options to increase rich, real-life learning opportunities for all students.

Teacher Quality: From Policy to Practice
Joyce Tugel
Year: 2004
Publisher: National Science Teachers Association
The No Child Left Behind act requires schools to have “qualified teachers” in every classroom by the 2005-2006 school year. This mandate has made professional development a priority. This article defines quality professional development, describes the six categories of professional development, and provides examples of outstanding programs.

Interactive Exhibits
Sue Allen
Year: 2014
Publisher: Springer
There is general agreement among museum professionals and scholars that the key feature of an interactive exhibit (or interactive for short) is reciprocity: as a visitor uses the exhibit, it responds in some way. This distinguishes it from more traditional exhibits that may be read or observed but do not change physically in response to visitors actions. The simplest interactives respond in only very limited ways, such as revealing more information to visitors when a flap is lifted or initiating a mechanical process when a button is pushed. More typically, however, interactive exhibits include mechanical, optical, magnetic, or electrical components that can be moved, connected, and adjusted in a broad variety of ways. Interactives often include some kind of interpretive labels that guide visitors and orient them to the goals of the exhibit; these typically include instructions or challenges, questions or hints, explanations, and a connection to daily life.

Deepening Students Scientific Inquiry Skills During a Science Museum Field Trip
J.P. Gutwill & Sue Allen
Year: 2012
Publisher: Taylor & Francis
Field trips to science museums can provide students with educational experiences, particularly when museum programs emphasize scientific inquiry skill building over content knowledge acquisition. We describe the creation and study of 2 programs designed to significantly enhance students’ inquiry skills at any interactive science museum exhibit without the need for advanced preparation by teachers or chaperones. The programs, called Inquiry Games, utilized educational principles from the learning sciences and from visitor studies of museum field trips. A randomized experimental design compared 2 versions of the games to 2 control conditions. Results indicate that the groups that learned the Inquiry Games significantly outperformed the control groups in the duration and quality of several inquiry skills when using a novel exhibit, with effect sizes ranging from 0.3? to 0.8?. The highest gains came from an Inquiry Game that was structured and collaborative rather than spontaneous and individualized. Students and chaperones in all conditions reported enjoying the experience. These results mirror those found in a previous study in which family groups learned the Inquiry Games.

The Case for Cyber Learning: Genomics (and Dragons!) in the High School Biology Classroom
Meghan Southworth, Jan Mokros, Chad Dorsey, and Randy Smith
Year: 2010
Publisher: National Science Teachers Association
GENIQUEST is a cyberlearning computer program that allows students to investigate biological data using a research-based instructional model. In this article, the authors make the case for using cyberlearning to teach students about the rapidly growing fields of genomics and computational biology.

A Framework for K-12 Science Standards: Increasing Opportunities for Student Learning
Thomas E. Keller & Greg Pearson
Year: 2012
Publisher: International Technology and Engineering Educators Association
Thomas E. Keller & Greg Pearson. (February 2012). A Framework for K-12 Science Standards: Increasing Opportunities for Student Learning. The Technology and Engineering Teacher 71(5), 12-18.

A Framework for K-12 Science Standards: Looking Toward the Future of Science
Heidi A. Schweingruber, Helen Quinn, Thomas E. Keller, and Greg Pearson
Year: 2013
Publisher: National Academy of Engineering
The framework was developed under the auspices of the NRC Board on Science Education (BOSE) in collaboration with the National Academy of Engineering and the National Academies’ Teacher Advisory Council. BOSE focuses on science education for all ages, in school settings and across many venues outside of school such as museums, nature centers, zoos, after-school programs, and community organizations. The Board convenes experts who draw on their professional knowledge and examine research on learning and teaching to make recommendations about how to improve science education.

Uncovering Student Thinking in Science Through CTS Action Research
Tugel, Joyce, & Ingrid Porter
Year: 2010
Publisher: Science Scope

Energy Monitoring: Powerful Connections Between Math, Science, and Community
Farrin, Lynn, & Jan Mokros
Year: 2012
Publisher: Science Scope

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