The learning research focuses on gaining insight about the learning processes and outcomes produced by the classroom and community activities and provides valuable information about student learning, interests, beliefs, and attitudes. The data collection focuses on student learning and engagement and teachers’ capabilities to enact the instructional materials to inform the revision of materials that can better support student progress toward the learning goals. In regards to student learning, we explore: how the various learning activities support the development of integrated understanding of ideas related to gene and environment interaction and natural selection.
Curriculum evaluation includes: (1) formative and summative evaluation as the curriculum is designed, tested, and iteratively revised; (2) interim summative assessment at the end of year 3; and (3) final summative assessment in year 5 as the curriculum and community efforts are packaged for broader use.
The community component of evaluation has several goals: (Formative) - to refine community activities, and incorporate points learned into the formal curriculum, and (Summative) - to document the methods used to engage the community in informal education, to assess the impact of community engagement and participation on members’ attitudes and awareness of genomics research applied to evolution, and to assess the impact of the community activities on student learning.
The Integration of Formal and Informal Learning Environments
Our innovation is an integration of formal and informal activities that blend together to give learners in middle school and members of the community unique experiences to learn deeply and apply ideas about gene – environment interactions and natural selection to their lives.