Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Curriculum and Instruction (PhD)

Degree Level



Curriculum and Instruction


William F. McComas

Committee Member

Stephen R. Burgin

Second Committee Member

Cathy Wissehr


museum education, scientific literacy, information science, science educators, museum governing board, science communication


Informal Science Centers provide educational experiences for people across the country daily. While the terminology is often similar, there are differences between institutions, often determined by mission, organizational structure, and experience. The purpose of this study was to identify shared experiences and unique characteristics of eight informal science centers around the country. The significance of the study was to add to the understanding of informal science educators' responsibilities, organizational structure, decision-making process, and development. Data for the study was collected using qualitative measures through a researcher-created interview, sent to fifteen institutions, after the recommendation from two well-known informal science researchers. Eight organizations agreed to complete the interview process, which was done utilizing a digital platform.

The interviews showed most institutions have similar expectations of their educators and their responsibilities. The data indicated educators have large say in determining programming and outreach direction, often based on interest, resources, and state standards. Additionally, the data showed there were significant differences in how institutions structured their educators organizationally.

The results of this study show the need for informal science centers to continue to evaluate data to determine best practices. Some institutions seemed to have more efficiently and effectively determined best practices. There should be a continued emphasis on evaluations, both programmatically and personally, as several sites did not have a formal evaluative process.