Learning Research and Development Center
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UPCLOSE conceptualizes, develops, and studies informal learning environments. Our work explores what it means to learn and change as a result of experiences in everyday contexts such as museums, community settings, on the web, and at home. We connect academic theory and real world practice. Our research focuses on relationships between learners, mediators, environments, and experiences. Because of the nature of informal learning, our laboratory exists in the world. We work in partnership with informal learning organizations to develop and use new models of learning. Our work often initially connects with our partners through their need for evaluation research, but it rarely ends with simple evaluation. We are most interested in work that contributes to our basic understandings of what it means to learn and change as a result of informal educational experiences. We believe that new theories of learning are best developed, tested, and revised when they are embedded in the design of novel learning environments. This comes about as a result of interdisciplinary collaboration between researchers, designers, educators, content specialists, and the learners themselves. UPCLOSE actively works on professional development and policy issues in the field of informal education. One of our ongoing projects, informalscience.org, is the field’s primary web site for collecting, sharing, and using research and evaluation work in informal science. As a Co-PI for the new Center for Advancement of Informal Science Education (CAISE), we will be working field-wide to directly connect the lessons of research to policy and practice in informal learning.

Research Team

Lauren AllenGraduate Student
Kevin CrowleySenior Scientist
Karen KnutsonAssociate Director
Marti LouwVisiting Scholar
Kaleen PovisGraduate Student