Learning Communities as Inclusive Professional Development for Zoo Educators

By Lisa-Anne DeGregoria Kelly.

Published by The International Journal of the Inclusive Museum

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

As one component of a multi-layered professional development (PD) program in an American institution of informal learning, zoological park educators engaged in learning communities in order to study topics of their choice. Three criteria for inclusivity were present in these communities: (1) the inclusion of both management level and non-management level education department staff-members on collaborative teams during PD endeavors, (2) the inclusion of education department staff-members employed within varied job roles in common PD pursuits, and (3) the inclusion of the educators as active participants in deciding the learning content and processes in which they engaged so as to enhance their professional development.

The tools that mediated, rules negotiated, and roles adopted by individuals in one such learning community on the pathway towards their objectives were examined according to the framework of Cultural Historical Activity Theory (CHAT) via a participatory research study utilizing qualitative transcript analysis of audio recorded learning community meetings along with examination of artifacts.

This study offers insights into the extent to which the inclusive nature of this learning community affected the professional development outcomes of the participants and suggests the potential of inclusivity as a feature of informal science institution professional development for contributing to a cycle of learning.

Keywords: Activity System, CHAT, Cultural Historical Activity Theory, Educator, Informal Learning, Learning Community, Participant Research, Professional Development, United States of America, Zoo

International Journal of the Inclusive Museum, Volume 1, Issue 4, pp.123-138. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 634.298KB).

Dr. Lisa-Anne DeGregoria Kelly

Doctoral Student, Science Education, Department of Education, Washington University, Saint Louis, Missouri, USA


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