Towards a more comprehensive framework for investigating novelty at out-of-school learning places for science and technology learning


  • Rebecca Cors
  • Nicolas Robin
  • Andreas Mueller
  • Patrick Kunz



informal learning, novelty, curiosity, motivation, science education, literature review


Out-of-school learning places (OSLePs) have come to be recognized as an integral part of promoting science and technology education. Studies at OSLePs demonstrate that learner feelings of unfamiliarity present barriers to achieving educational outcomes. However, these investigations of novelty at OSLePs have drawn from several different, largely unconnected models to guide their work and have differently defined the novelty construct. The aim of this paper is to describe a more comprehensive framework for studying novelty at OSLePs. Through a literature review, we show how studies have focused primarily on how learners’ previous knowledge, experiences, and disposition, as well as features of the OSLeP, affect educational outcomes. Measures of these ‘novelty influence’ factors fall into five categories: cognitive, affective, setting familiarity, social, and capability. Another set of important, but less studied, variables have to do with perceived ‘novelty experience,’ or what learners find new or unusual during their OSLeP experience, and how it interacts with the novelty influence factors to shape educational outcomes. We relate the presented synthesis of research on novelty influence and experience factors to the Contextual Model of Learning, an influential theoretical framework for research about and development of informal learning programs. In a second part of the paper, we discuss how novelty at OSLePs relates to two general theories of educational science: self-determination theory and Yerkes-Dodson relationships. These models can provide a still broader understanding of novelty and its educational effects at OSLePs. Finally, we offer suggestions for designing investigations that will better inform OSLeP managers and researchers about how to leverage novelty for more positive learner experiences.


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