As part of the search for our new physics colleague in Lyman Briggs, candidates are asked to present a research talk on their work in the physics department. The last of these talks will be given by Dr. Kathleen Hinko, an educational researcher in physics. The talk entitled, " Characterizing The Impact on Participants in Informal Physics Learning Environments", will be in 1300 BPS on Tuesday, Mar 1st from 9am-10am.
Informal physics programs, often known in the physics community as “outreach”, are educational efforts where physicists interact with public audiences outside of the physics classroom. These activities have a long history in the physics community and in many university departments. Goals for learners can be content-related, such as demonstrating conceptual understanding and practical skills, as well as affective and identity-related, such as promoting enthusiasm for physics and the development of physics identity. My research addresses questions about the impact of informal physics programs on three main groups of participants: university facilitators (physicists and physics students), public audiences (youth and adults), and partner institutions (universities, departments, community groups, and schools). In this talk, I will describe several ongoing research projects including: 1) the characterization of pedagogical practices of university student educators in informal settings, and 2) the intersection of the physics, racial, and gender identities of university educators with their participation in informal physics programs. I will also discuss new efforts to determine the national landscape of physics “outreach”. Outcomes from these projects can inform university support for and design of both formal and informal physics environments as well as have broad implications for other discipline-specific STEM programming.
About the presenter:
Dr. Hinko is currently a senior research associate in the Physics Education Research Group at the University of Colorado Boulder as well as the Director of Educational Community Partnerships for JILA. Dr. Hinko primary research interest is on participants in informal learning environments. As part of her work, she leads the PISEC (Partnership for Informal Science Education in the Community) program. Her Ph.D. is from the University of Texas at Austin in the field of biophysics where she designed a novel Raman microscope and measured the molecular composition of living cells. While at the University of Texas, she also served as the Graduate Outreach Director for the Physics Department.