Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name



Urban Education


Kenneth Tobin

Committee Members

Konstantinos Alexakos

Gillian U. Bayne

Subject Categories

Science and Mathematics Education | Secondary Education and Teaching | Teacher Education and Professional Development


intersection of formal and informal science learning, novice teachers, induction, museum affordances, American Museum of Natural History


In this dissertation, I examine the role of out-of-school learning environments in the development of new science teachers. The context for the research is the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) program, specifically; the first two-year post-graduation new teacher induction. This manuscript style dissertation documents various aspects of using the museum and other out-of-school learning experiences in new teacher induction as well as illuminating how graduates of the program use the museum and its resources in their classroom. The first museum teacher residency program in the United States, this study advances our understanding of museum affordances and of out-of-school learning environments to enhance reciprocal development among new science teachers and students.

I begin the dissertation with an Autobiographical chapter that examines formative experiences and provides a context for my work and motivation for this dissertation. I apply teaching and learning frameworks to understand past learning experiences that shaped me as a teacher and researcher.

In chapter 2, Dioramas and Teachers: Looking, Thinking, Drawing and Talking, I reflect on my initial work using the Museum’s natural history dioramas with science teachers. Natural history dioramas are generative of visual stimuli, which afford various entry points for teachers and students to engage in science. A version of this chapter will be published (Fall 2018) in a book, edited by Annette Scheersoi and Sue Dale Tunnicliffe, Natural History Dioramas – Traditional Exhibits for Current Educational Themes.

In chapter 3, Breaking Dichotomies: Learning to be a Teacher of Science in Formal and Informal Setting, I examine the nexus of informal and formal learning and leverages the affordances of museum resources in shaping science teacher identity of residents in the Museum’s MAT program. This chapter, which was published in 2016 in Intersections of Formal and Informal Science, edited by Lucy Avraamidou and Wolff-Michael Roth, was a co-authored article with AMNH colleagues Preeti Gupta and Maritza Macdonald.

In chapter 4, Mining Science Capital: Collaboration with a Scientist Enhances Out-of-School Education for New Teachers and their Students, I provide an example that illustrates the value of integrating informal and formal learning environments to enhance reciprocal development for new teachers and their students. I describe the program Advances in Geosciences – designed in the frame of MAT induction activities – that brings together MAT graduates, some of their students, and an AMNH scientist, as they visit the Museum’s science halls, the scientist’s lab, and an underground zinc mine.

In chapter 5, Drawing Attention: Notes from the Field, I investigate the use of silent sketching as a contemplative practice with the new science teachers involved in the MAT induction program. For teachers, contemplation and silence are in short supply in school environments. Natural history museum dioramas lend themselves for looking and contemplating. In 2017 the chapter was published in Weaving Complementary Knowledge Systems and Mindfulness to Educate a Literate Citizenry for Sustainable and Healthy Lives, edited by Malgorzata Powietrzyńska and Kenneth Tobin.

In chapter 6, Out of the Museum into the Classroom (and Back Again), I examine experiences of a recent MAT graduate as he integrates the Museum’s resources in his Earth Science teaching to illuminate his students’ impressions and learning in a New York City public school.

I close the dissertation with an Epilogue that reflects on the process of writing and formative ontological shifts that have challenged my previous ideas about teaching, learning, and research.