P762: Promoting self-efficacy and habits in science, sustainability, and service by designing experiences that unify learning across school, family, and community contexts
Evolving mobile technology and the rapid spread of STEM-focused informal learning environments has created a unique opportunity to break through the barriers that have traditionally separated diverse learning contexts such as school, family, and community. At least one theoretical perspective has claimed that in a well-designed family learning environment both parents and children can make significant gains in science knowledge, science skills, positive attitudes towards science, and academic self-efficacy (Brassett-Grundy, 2002; Haggart, 2000; Ostlund, Gennaro and Dobbert 1985). Families, Organizations, and Communities Understanding Science, Sustainability, and Service (FOCUSSS) is a design-based research project created to blur the boundaries between different learning contexts, and, in doing so, promote adoption of real-word behaviors that have tangible positive impacts on individuals, families, communities, and the environment. Data from this two-year proof-of-concept program present strongly encouraging, albeit preliminary, evidence that cutting across contexts does indeed correlate with increased self-efficacy and positive changes in behavior in participants. Furthermore, the FOCUSSS design framework appears to be quite robust, delivering consistent results across variations in the students’ teacher, grade level, school type (neighborhood, charter, private), parent education level, and other factors that might otherwise lead to alternate explanations of these differences in student outcomes.