Supporting Self-Directed Learning in Science and Technology Beyond the School Years  book cover
1st Edition

Supporting Self-Directed Learning in Science and Technology Beyond the School Years

ISBN 9781138353268
Published January 7, 2019 by Routledge
224 Pages

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Book Description

While much has been written about science education from pre-K through to postgraduate study, interaction with science and technology does not stop when schooling ends. Moving beyond scholarship on conventional education, this book extends the research and provides an original in-depth look at adult and lifelong learning in science and technology. By identifying the knowledge and skills that individuals need to engage in self-directed learning, the book highlights how educators can best support adult learners beyond the years of formal schooling. Through case studies and empirical analysis, the authors offer a research-based exploration of adults’ self-directed learning and provide tools to support adults’ learning experiences in a wide range of environments while being inclusive of all educational backgrounds.

Table of Contents





Chapter 1: What Are Science and Technology?


The importance of science and technology

Scientific literacy and the public understanding of science

Finding a meaning for scientific literacy

What does it mean to be literate in science and technology?

Where does STEM fit?

What science and technology do people need to know?

Where can adults learn about science and technology and how can we help them?


Chapter 2: How Do Adults Learn Science and Technology?


To what extent do adults learn science and technology?

Models of learning

Models underlying a classical view of pedagogy




The main elements of the self-directed learning of science and technology

Theories of motivation and self-determination

Individual engagement with science and technology


Chapter 3: Learning to Deal with Medical Issues


Seeking solutions to health problems

Ana’s story: First pregnancy

Penny’s story: An "invisible disability"

Mary’s story: A lifelong challenge

Commentary on the three case stories


Chapter 4: Pursuing Personal Interests – Learning through Hobbies


Pursuing a life-long hobby

Richard’s Story: Building a Logie Baird televisor

Michael’s Story: Creating Complex Jewellery

Pursuing Environmental Interests

Tina’s Story: Surprise encounter with a bumblebee

Paulette’s Story: Opaque Aquifers and Other Matters

Commentary on the four case stories


Chapter 5: Learning to Help Others


Helping children

Paul’s story: pop-up dinosaurs

Liz’s story: Science for Mothers

The explainers

Tiki’s story: Interpreting plants

Kristen’s story: In the galleries

Warren’s story: A science of place

Commentary on the five case stories


Chapter 6: Learning for Work


Learning in and for the workplace

Hugh’s story: An experience of life-long learning

Ketan’s story: Understanding controversy

Keith’s story: Life is a garden

Commentary on the three case stories


Chapter 7: Learning Through a Diversity of Approaches: The Case of the Moon Diary



The influence of learning styles and multiple intelligences

Free pathways and motivation

The Moon Diary assignment

Initial responses: from confusion to elation

Choosing the theme



Chapter 8: Resources for Self-Directed Learning


How self-directed learners use resources

Media resources

Printed resources

Electronic mass media

The Internet and social media

Quality of information portrayed by mass media

People as resources – experts, friends, peers and colleagues

Experts in the field

Friends, peers, and colleagues

Course-taking and teachers

Internet e-learning platforms

Self-directed learning at education institutions

Personal resources


Chapter 9: Learning from New Media


Characteristics of new media

Learning via the Internet: The digital divide

Motivation to search the Internet

Checking facts

Focused searching

Exploration and discovery

Learning about science through new media: Social networks

Hazards of new media

Judging a credible source

Helping people to learn from the Internet


Chapter 10: Supporting Self-directed Learning in Science and Technology



Essential skills for effective self-directed learning

Prerequisite personal resources for self-directed learners

Motivation toward the chosen task

Active engagement in learning

Self-efficacy as a learner

Partnerships for learning

Mentoring relationships

Varieties of mentorship

Learning relationships in our case stories

Learning relationships and online media

How to support self-directed learners

Likely supporters of self-directed learners

Educators providing formal learning experiences

Specialists and community liaison people

Staff in the educational sections of cultural organisations

Effective communication


Chapter 11: Advancing the Cause of Adult Literacy in Science and Technology


Science in the school curriculum

Dealing with science and technology in everyday life

Technology in the school curriculum

The curricular relevance of STEM and STEAM

The relevance of an integrated curriculum

Developing literacy in science and technology

Increasing "Science Capital"

Providing knowledge and skills to facilitate universal scientific literacy

Achieving the goals of lifelong learning in science and technology


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Léonie J. Rennie is Emeritus Professor of Science and Technology Education in the School of Education at Curtin University, Australia.

Susan M. Stocklmayer
is Emeritus Professor of Science Communication and Founder of the Australian National Centre for the Public Awareness of Science at The Australian National University, Australia.

John K. Gilbert
is Professor Emeritus of Science Education at The University of Reading, and Visiting Professor of King’s College London, UK.



"This is a book of great lucidity and relevance by three world-leading academics. It examines data from a wide range of countries and powerfully shows the great potential for adult science education. The case studies it analyses are fascinating. This is a book that deserves to be read by all those who strive for a more scientifically literate society."

- Professor Michael J. Reiss, UCL Institute of Education, UK

"This book is unique in that it reviews the knowledge and skills that adults need to update and further their understanding of science and technology. Rooted in theories of adult learning, the authors describe how work or personal interests can spark a need-to-know, which then forms the starting point of a learning trajectory. The authors of this book bring a lifetime of expertise to the topic, and have the ability to write about it in a very accessible and engaging way. As such, it is highly recommended for educators, but also, and more importantly, for every person who thinks that they may be missing out or losing touch with science and technology."

- Professor Jan van Driel, The University of Melbourne, Australia

"This book, by three of the leading scholars in the field, provides an important and much overdue look at the way in which adults learn about science and technology. Through a series of case study accounts of adult engagement with science and technology, the authors build a strong argument for the importance of self-directed learning in science education."

- John Wallace, University of Toronto, Canada