Schools out…forever!

The semester is ending, and as I will be graduating the end of next week, it’s finally sinking in that my time in grad school is coming to a close. The final copy of my dissertation was handed in at the end of the last month, and ever since I have been considering what types of publications I would like to work on while transitioning back in the real world.

Deciding on publications is really more tricky than it seems. I’m trying to find opportunities that reflect my approach as both a researcher and an educator. Of course, my choices will be job dependent (a matter I am still diligently working on) due to time and project constraints, however I have been thinking about writing articles that both highlight the theory I generated around docents in science museum settings, and are able to communicate the practical implications for the field. Myself and Michelle are considering an article together that links our two pieces of work (mine on existing docent practice, hers on training methods), and myself and Susan on interpretation in museums. Both will be equally interesting to pursue. I’d particularly like to write something that is useful to informal science education settings, in terms of docent preparation and interpretive strategies in museum, as I am an advocate for promoting the visibility of free choice learning research to those that develop programming in the field. Just like scientist engagement in education and outreach is an important part of science education, as researchers we are also part of a community that should attempt to engage the free choice learning field in educational research. Outreach works both ways.

What’s interesting about this process is trying to work out which journals are also most fruitful to pursue. I was encouraged by both my committee to attempt to publish in the Journal of Interpretation (National Association for Interpretation), but I have also been thinking about Current (National Marine Educators Association), American Educational Research Journal (American Educational Research Association) and Visitor Studies (Visitor Studies Association), but there are a lot more to consider. It’s a little overwhelming, but also exciting. For me, this is where the rubber hits the road – the avenues where the outcomes of my work can become part of the larger free choice learning community.