Are you an educator, paid or volunteer, looking for an opportunity to improve your practice through understanding more about learning theory and evaluating exhibits and programs? You may be interested in OSU’s new professional certificate program, starting at the end of this month.

Bridget Egan

Free-Choice Learning and Informal Education continuing education certificate
program begins April 1st

March 1, 2013

Registration is now open for the Free-Choice Learning Professional Certificate, an
online program offered by Oregon State University.

The program helps professional and volunteer educators in museums, zoos, aquaria
and educational outreach programs discover more about free-choice learning:
the study of what, where and how we choose to learn over the course of our
lifetimes. Participants will study learning theory and practice using theory and
research towards building their professional practice with in their community.
Participants will also actively engage in practice evaluations of exhibits, programs
and curriculum.

Courses are taught by experienced Oregon State faculty and researchers: Lynn
Dierking, Sea Grant professor and interim associate dean for research in the OSU
College of Education; John H. Falk, Sea Grant professor and interim director of the
Center for Research in Lifelong STEM Learning; Shawn Rowe, marine education and
learning specialist at Oregon Sea Grant Extension; and Jennifer Bachman, instructor
and Free-Choice Learning program coordinator.

Learn more about the Free-Choice Learning Professional Certificate on our website.

OSU Professional and Noncredit Education provides education and training for
businesses, organizations, associations and professionals anywhere throughout the
state and beyond. The majority of professional and noncredit students are focused
on continuing education: licensure recertification, professional development and
personal enrichment. OSU Professional and Noncredit Education is part of the
university’s Division of University Outreach and Engagement.

This innovative program immerses museum, zoo, aquarium and science outreach professionals and volunteers in free-choice learning theories. Participants will work with some of the field’s leading researchers and learn how to apply informal learning environments theories in real-world educational settings. Participants can earn the Free-Choice Learning Professional Certificate by completing each required course for this program or take individual courses without enrolling in the professional certificate program.


Designing Learning Environments: Physical dimensions of free-choice learning
Learning is influenced by the interaction of variables within three contexts — personal, socio-cultural and physical. This course focuses on how macro-scale environmental factors, like space, crowding and novelty, and micro-scale environmental factors, like design elements, real objects and different media, support free-choice learning.
Instructors: Shawn Rowe, Ph.D. and Jennifer Bachman, Ph.D.
Launches April 1, 2013

Developing Effective Evaluations
Developing Effective Evaluations is an introductory course that focuses on providing a hands-on approach to effectively assessing/evaluating learning and behavior within the free-choice learning contexts such as museums, national parks, zoos, aquariums and broadcast media. The design and implementation of an evaluation is used as a lens for understanding the hows and whys of assessment and evaluation. This course is designed to help professionals design their own evaluation/assessment research as well as become informed consumers of others’ research.
Instructors: Marianna Adams, Ph.D. and Jennifer Bachman, Ph.D.
Launches June 24, 2013

FALL 2013

Examining The Learner’s Own Ideas: Personal dimensions of free-choice learning
Investigates the fundamental roles that identity, motivation, interest, prior knowledge and experience, and choice and control play in supporting learning and how learning leaders can build on these dimensions of learning in order to successfully engage lifelong learners.
Instructors: John Falk, Ph.D. and Jennifer Bachman, Ph.D.
Launches September 2013

Understanding Cultural Influence: Sociocultural dimensions of free-choice learning
Investigates connections between theories of free-choice learning and the fundamental concepts of sociology, social psychology and anthropology: social stratification, social structure and interaction, social institutions, and cultural background.
Instructors:  Lynn Dierking, Ph.D. and Jennifer Bachman, Ph.D.
This course and more electives launch January 2014


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