College of Education of Castelo Branco (PORTUGAL)
About this paper:
Appears in: ICERI2012 Proceedings
Publication year: 2012
Pages: 2747-2753
ISBN: 978-84-616-0763-1
ISSN: 2340-1095
Conference name: 5th International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 19-21 November, 2012
Location: Madrid, Spain
The non-formal and informal contexts have different characteristics and have different capabilities in terms of science education. On the other hand, the way they are used by school also has implications on scientific learning of students and, ultimately, in their scientific literacy.
However, characterization of these contexts and knowledge about their potential in science education and literacy of citizens, in formal / school are still insufficiently studied.
The research presented here aims to contribute to a better understanding of this problem. The objectives of this research are: (1) Characterize non-formal (science centers) and informal (popular science books) learning in terms of nature of science, scientific knowledge, capacities and scientific literacy dimensions that promote. (2) Understand the importance of such contexts for education and scientific literacy of citizens. (3) Develop tools to characterize and evaluate the non-formal and informal learning; Thus, professionals, directly or indirectly linked to the scientific education of citizens (eg, teachers, parents, popularizers of science) to direct your selections and decisions about what the best settings and how they can be better used for education and scientific literacy.
In methodological terms the study involves several components: construction of instruments for the analysis of science centers and popular science books aimed at children and young people; conducting semi-structured interviews with directors of educational centers of science and authors of popular science books ; observation of primary school children using science centers and popular science books.
We used the conceptualisation of Shen (1975) subsequently developed by authors as De Boer (2000), and the conceptualization of Bernstein (1990, 2000) also further developed by several authors as Morais et al (2000).
The results allow us to verify that different non- formal and informal contexts develop different dimensions of scientific education and scientific literacy. Variables such as scientific content of the activities of science centers/museums and books, academic background of the authors/directors, seem to influence the dimensions of scientific education and literacy promoted. The support that an adult gives children as they explore science centers and popular science books is crucial to further exploit the potential of such contexts.
Also, this paper identifies, describes and discusses the implications and impact the usage of non-formal and informal contexts out and in schools could have.

[1] Bernstein, B. (1990). Class, codes and control: Vol. IV, The structuring of pedagogic discourse. London: Routledge.
[2] Bernstein, B. (2000). Pedagogy, symbolic control and identity: Theory, research, critique (rev. edition). Londres: Rowman & Littlefield.
[3] De Boer, G. (2000). Scientific literacy: Another look at its historical and contemporary meanings and its relationship to science education reform. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 37 (6), 582-601.
[4] Morais, A., Neves, I. et al (2000). Estudos para uma sociologia da aprendizagem. Lisboa: Instituto de Inovação Educacional e Centro de Investigação em Educação da Faculdade de Ciências da Universidade de Lisboa.
[5] Shen, B.J. (1975). Scientific literacy and the public understanding of science. In, S. Day (Ed.), Communication of Scientific Information. Basel: Karger.
Informal context, Non-formal, Science centers, Scientific education, Scientific literacy, Popular science books.