John H. Falk

John H. Falk
Oregon State University | OSU · College of Education

About

121
Publications
67,639
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12,797
Citations
Citations since 2017
10 Research Items
5682 Citations
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Publications

Publications (121)
Article
Full-text available
Despite the fact that most science learning takes place outside of school, little is known about how engagement in informal science learning (ISL) experiences affects learners’ knowledge, skill development, interest, or identities over long periods of time. Although substantial ISL research has documented short-term outcomes such as the learning th...
Article
Despite considerable efforts in recent years to encourage Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) interest and participation among youth, STEM interest during adolescence continues to decline. Recently, researchers, educators, and policymakers have used a learning ecology perspective to better understand the development and persiste...
Article
Introduction Few would argue that the national parks provide significant value to both the nation and the world. The question remains though, What is that value and how to measure it? Increasingly, a key indicator of this value is the learning that parks support. However, as we will discuss, even defining what is meant by educational value is chall...
Article
Full-text available
Profound changes are occurring in society, disrupting current systems and institutions; these disruptions also are affecting science education practice and research. Science learning is becoming a lifelong, self-directed process, dominated by out-of-school, free-choice learning experiences. By necessity these disruptions in the science learning nar...
Article
Students’ declining performance in science and mathematics is an issue of great international concern. Recently, educators and researchers have begun to focus on affective factors such as interest to better understand STEM learning and persistence. Therefore, there is a need for effective measures of STEM interest that allow it to be tracked over t...
Chapter
Studying the multidimensional, dynamic and complex qualities of a community-wide science education system must begin by creating an expanded definition of what constitutes a public science education system. A system-wide approach recognises that formal education entities (early childhood, elementary, secondary and post-secondary schools) are critic...
Article
Although there is substantial research on the effect of emotions on educational outcomes in the classroom, relatively little is known about how emotion affects learning in informal science contexts. We examined the role of emotion in the context of an informal science learning experience by utilizing a path model to investigate the relationships am...
Chapter
We have been generously provided an opportunity to write a rejoinder to Jensen and Lister’s chapter published in this volume. From the outset, we want to make it clear that we consider such dialogue healthy and constructive for the field. We appreciate the opportunity to clarify the points made by Jensen and Lister and thank this book’s editors for...
Article
Research on why the public visits museums is presented in order to provide a visitor-centered perspective on the long-running debate about whether museums should position themselves first and foremost as content authorities or as public educators, often dichotomized as ‘quality/education’ versus ‘quantity/entertainment.’ Data from a diversity of mu...
Article
This international investigation was designed to determine if, and under what circumstances experiences at science centers, significantly correlated with a range of adult general public science and technology literacy measures. Given the complex and cumulative nature of science and technology learning, and the highly variable and free-choice nature...
Research
Full-text available
Over the past ten years, investments in infrastructure for informal STEM education and science communication have resulted in significant growth in the number and variety of resources and depth of expertise available to members of the STEM research community wishing to develop outreach, engagement and broader impacts activities. This report/white p...
Article
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Abstract This paper, describes Synergies, an on-going longitudinal study and design effort, being conducted in a diverse, under-resourced community in Portland, Oregon, with the goal of measurably improving STEM learning, interest and participation by early adolescents, both in school and out of school. Authors examine how the work of this particu...
Article
In this issue, we have compiled six original papers, outcomes from the U.S. National Science Foundation (US-NSF)-funded REESE (Research and Evaluation on Education in Science and Engineering) 2020 Vision: The Next Generation of STEM Learning Research project. The purpose of 2020 Vision was to re-envision the questions and frameworks guiding STEM re...
Article
Full-text available
The dramatic decline in youth interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) during adolescence, both in the USA and internationally, has been a phenomenon of societal concern for several decades. The Synergies project was launched to help deal with this issue. In this paper, we report findings from the first two years of our l...
Article
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Personal meaning mapping (PMM) has been used extensively to understand visitor meaning making in a range of free-choice contexts. This research note presents PMM as a useful tool for understanding festival visitor experiences in the complex and challenging context of festival events. While past research has explored the meaning of festivals from va...
Article
Increasing evidence suggests that individuals develop their understanding of science concepts in and out of school, using varied community resources and networks. Thus in contrast to historic research approaches that focus exclusively on single organizations and/or educational events, the current paper presents exploratory research in which we util...
Article
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Informal Science Education: Lifelong, Life-Wide, Life-Deep Informal science education cultivates diverse opportunities for lifelong learning outside of formal K-16 classroom settings, from museums to online media, often with the help of practicing scientists.
Technical Report
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On April 7, 2014 the Center for Research on Lifelong STEM Learning and the Office of the Associate Provost for Academic Success and Engagement launched the Undergraduate Success Initiative with an invitational workshop entitled Redefining Undergraduate Success. A small planning team convened a group of 32 faculty and administrators with a wide a...
Conference Paper
Learning happens everywhere and anywhere, and while this mantra is gaining traction, little research exists showing precisely how children and youth migrate through a complex local ecology of STEM or science learning opportunities. Ongoing research in a low-income part of Portland, Oregon as part of the Synergies project is shedding light on this i...
Technical Report
Full-text available
The analysis contained in this report was prepared for the CAISE Convening on Broader Impacts & ISE. The report summarizes interviews with researchers in STEM subjects who were asked about: 1) their perceptions about broader impacts, 2) the planning and process that researchers undertake for broader impacts activities, 3) the resources and supports...
Article
This paper examines past and present literature relating to identity development and identity-related tourism motivation. It presents a theoretical model of identity-related tourism motivation that is based on multidimensional rather than unidimensional theories of identity as well as acknowledging both individual and social influences on identity...
Article
This paper reviews a wide range of literature applicable to understanding why and how hobbyists learn. Of particular importance appear to be theories such as situated learning and communities of practice, but insights from the cognitive sciences related to expertise, motivation, and interest also emerged as important. The boundaries between formal...
Article
Historically, most efforts to improve public knowledge of science and technology have focused on improvements in K-12 schooling, although post-secondary education and informal education have also been mentioned as important factors. Currently, little empirical data exist to determine how or when to best leverage science and technology education ene...
Technical Report
Full-text available
The OSU Center for Research for Lifelong STEM Learning with support from the OSU Research Office and in collaboration with OSU Outreach and Engagement, convened a “Broader Impacts Invitational Workshop” on December 7, 2012. The workshop solicited opinions and perspectives from 65 participating faculty who were broadly representative of OSU’s divers...
Chapter
Science learning is increasingly a lifelong, self-directed process, dominated by out-of-school, free-choice learning experiences. This chapter discusses the scope and scale of that learning across a range of informal contexts – museums, zoos and aquariums; broadcast media such as television and radio; hobby groups; electronic media such as social n...
Article
Full-text available
This study investigated the informal science education (ISE) field to determine whether it currently functions as an effective community of practice. Research questions included: How do professionals describe and self-identify their practice, including what missions, goals and motivating factors influence their professional work? What challenges do...
Article
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Stemming from a review analysis of concepts and methods usually used to lead public stu- dies, the author puts forward a new approach which, beyond the partitioning into socio-professional categories inherited from the neo-Marxist tradition, takes into account the different facets of the visitor’s identity in a wider manner: the reflexive conscious...
Article
This conceptual paper explores the nexus between travel and learning; an area of investigation long neglected by tourism researchers. Using Aristotle’s concepts of phronesis, techne and episteme a framework for the major areas of literature dealing with touristic learning are considered and opportunities and challenges for expanding the boundaries...
Article
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In this paper, we propose a practice-based theory and new methods for the study of interest development. The theory incorporates individual psychological perspectives, but it also theorizes the place-based nature of interest development and seeks to give an account of how persons and practices are mutually constituted. It also identifies roles rese...
Article
Wildlife tourism experiences have the potential to positively impact tourists' awareness, appreciation and actions in relation to the specific wildlife they encounter and the environment in general. This paper investigates the extent of such impact across multiple sites, and uses Structural Equation Modelling to identify factors that best predict p...
Article
Full-text available
Tourism and leisure patterns are changing in the 21st century; increasing numbers of people view leisure and tourism as an opportunity to expand their understanding of themselves and their world. A research model is described herein that utilizes the construct of identity-related visit motivations as a tool for understanding tourists' visits to fre...
Article
This article represents a companion to an article critiquing Falk's identity-related visitor motivations model. Provided here are a summary of the theory and assumptions that underlie the identity-related visitor motivations model and the empirical approaches that were used to develop the model. Particular attention is directed to clarifying the wa...
Article
Full-text available
A range of sources support science learning, including the formal education system, libraries, museums, nature and Science Centers, aquariums and zoos, botanical gardens and arboretums, television programs, film and video, newspapers, radio, books and magazines, the Internet, community and health organizations, environmental organizations, and conv...
Article
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The scientific research and education communities have long had a goal of advancing the public's understanding of science. Another emerging area of research investigates science-related hobbies. Research conducted by Marni Berendsen, education researcher and project director of the NASA Night Sky Network, showed that amateur astronomy club members...
Article
Marino et al. (2010) recently published a critique of a three-year National Science Foundation—funded investigation of the impact of zoo and aquarium visits on the public's understanding of animals and their attitudes toward conservation (Falk, Heimlich, & Bronnenkant, 2008; Falk, Reinhard, Vernon, Bronnenkant, Deans, & Heimlich, 2007; Heimlich, Br...
Article
Full-text available
Individuals residing in the rainforest belt of Nigeria were shown photographs of five biomes: rain forest, deciduous forest, coniferous forest, savanna, and desert. Subjects overwhelmingly selected savanna scenes as representing the most desirable place to live. These results, coupled with extensive American data, support the hypothesis that humans...
Article
Museums invest considerable resources in promoting and supporting elementary-school field trips, but remain skeptical about their educational value. Recent cognitive psychology and neuroscience research require a reappraisal of how and what to assess relative to school-field-trip learning. One hundred and twenty-eight subjects were interviewed abou...
Article
It has been argued that visitors' pre-visit “agendas” directly influence visits. This study attempted to directly test the effects of different museum visit agendas on visitor learning. Two new tools were developed for this purpose: (1) a tool for measuring visitor agendas; and (2) a tool for measuring visitor learning (Personal Meaning Mapping). V...
Article
Abstract  This paper advances the thesis that museum visitors' identities, motivations and learning are inextricably intertwined. All individuals enact multiple identities, many of which are situational and constructed in response to a social and physical context. Identity influences motivations, which in turn directly influence behavior and learni...
Article
Abstract Interactives—computers and other multimedia components, physical manipulatives (including whole-body and tabletop activities), and simulations—occur in all types of museums. There is considerable interest in the nature of the learning that happens when visitors use interactives. Museum professionals have enlisted constructivist theory to s...
Article
Abstract  Considerable time and effort have been invested in understanding the motivations of museum visitors. Many investigators have sought to describe why people visit museums, resulting in a range of descriptive categorizations. Recently, investigators have begun to document the connections between visitors' entering motivations and their exiti...
Article
Full-text available
A number of investigators have argued that emotion plays an important role in free-choice learning in settings such as museums, science centers, zoos, and aquariums, particularly given the relationship between emotion and cognition. Despite considerable research on the cognitive aspects of visits, empirical studies on emotion in such settings are v...
Article
Full-text available
Most people visit a science center in order to satisfy specific leisure-related needs; needs which may or may not actually include science learning. Falk proposed that an individual's identity-related motivations provide a useful lens through which to understand adult free-choice science learning in leisure settings. Over a 3-year period the author...
Article
Full-text available
Although the criteria for determining success as a cultural institution at the beginning of the twenty-first century are still evolving, there are a few universals that are emerging. Successful cultural organizations serve the specific needs of audiences while maximizing the flexibility and ingenuity of their relationships, both inside and outside...
Chapter
This chapter, Chapter 19, is the first in Section IV, Visitors, Learning, Interacting, of the book, A Companion to Museum Studies. Chapters in this section discuss questions about the visitor experience, models of education and learning, visitor studies and museological approach. This specific chapter contextualises visitors' use of museums within...
Article
Full-text available
Historically, most of the focus of science education has been on pre-college and college level schooling. Although some of the public's interest and knowledge about science is unquestionably shaped by compulsory schooling, given that the average adult spends only a fraction of their life participating in some kind of formal schooling, we argue that...
Article
Full-text available
This study investigated visitors' and staff's perceptions about the communication of science in a traditional natural history museum. The research examined the science-related outcomes for adult visitors and explored visitors' and staff's ideas of science and how it is portrayed at the museum. Data were collected by questionnaire and interview from...
Article
Full-text available
Falk and Dierking's Contextual Model of Learning was used as a theoretical construct for investigating learning within a free-choice setting. A review of previous research identified key variables fundamental to free-choice science learning. The study sought to answer two questions: (1) How do specific independent variables individually contribute...
Article
Full-text available
Education is a lifelong endeavor; the public learns in many places and contexts, for a diversity of reasons, throughout their lives. During the past couple of decades, there has been a growing awareness that free‐choice learning experiences – learning experiences where the learner exercises a large degree of choice and control over the what, when a...
Article
Full-text available
This article provides an overview of current understandings of the science learning that occurs as a consequence of visiting a free-choice learning setting like a science museum. The best available evidence indicates that if you want to understand learning at the level of individuals within the real world, learning does functionally differ dependin...
Article
Full-text available
science from museums. História, Ciências, Saúde – Manguinhos, v. 12 (supplement), p. 117-43, 2005. This article provides an overview of current understandings of the science learning that occurs as a consequence of visiting a free-choice learning setting like a science museum. The best available evidence indicates that if you want to understand lea...
Article
This paper presents two perspectives that the author believes will contribute to an enhanced ability to describe and understand learning from museums. Arguably, a major strength of the past decade of research on learning from museums has been the description and investigation of many of the myriad factors that appear to influence learning from muse...
Article
Free-choice learning, a new paradigm for the learning that youth and their families engage in outside school, can play an important role in the healthy development of youth, their families, and communities.
Article
Most free-choice science learning institutions, in particular science centers, zoos, aquariums, and natural history museums, define themselves as educational institutions. However, to what extent, and for which visitors, do these free-choice learning settings accomplish their educational mission? Answering this question has proven challenging, in l...
Article
The question, "What constitutes a reasonable, useful agenda for research into science learning in out-of-school, free-choice environments?" has surfaced with increasing frequency over the past 10 years or so. One event that helped move the agenda forward was the National Science Foundation-funded conference, "Public Institutions for Personal Learni...
Article
In the spring of 1999, the Board of the National Association of Research in Science Teaching (NARST) established an Informal Science Education Ad Hoc committee, co-chaired by Lynn Dierking and John Falk. The Committee's task was to focus on the organization's positioning in regard to out-of-school science education. After 2 years of work, the commi...
Chapter
Full-text available
This chapter will address how changes in our perception of museums and learning are resulting in a paradigm shift in how we approach research of learning in and from museums. Traditional notions of the museum as ultimate authority and arbiter of taste are being challenged as we recognise that visitors make their own meaning in museums. An evolved u...
Article
No hay una sola manera de aprender, ni un solo lugar o momento en los cuales aprendemos. Todo aprendizaje tiene lugar continuamente, desde muchas fuentes y de muchas maneras diferentes. Existen tres sectores educativos principales, el sector educativo formal de escuelas y universidades, el lugar de trabajo, y el sector de libre aprendizaje. De los...
Article
This study at the National Aquarium in Baltimore (NAIB) was conducted to assess four key aspects of the visitor experience: (1) incoming conservation knowledge, attitudes, and behavior of NAIB visitors; (2) patterns of use and interaction with exhibition components throughout the NAIB; (3) exiting conservation knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors of...
Article
The purpose of this study was to investigate a museum exhibition design assumption that visitors develop conceptual understanding of a science topic after utilizing a cluster of conceptually related exhibits which lack explicit concept labeling; also investigated was whether visitor concept development could be enhanced through the addition of expl...
Article
An evaluation for the renovation of the existing visitor center at the Hatfield Marine Sciences Center (HMSC) was undertaken, in conjunction with the communications planning phase of the project. The outcome is expected to be the development of a communications plan and selection of concepts for visitors' interpretive experience. In the course of t...

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Projects (2)
Project
Working to build university-based infrastructure towards improved science-society connections.