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Interests and STEM learning out-of-school: Taking stock of technical and political dimensions

Speaker Series


Dr. Flavio Azevedo, Ph.D, UT Austin, College of Education



For about two decades, I have been theorizing the nature of interests and interest-driven learning, mostly in/around STEM practices and disciplines, and in settings as diverse as hobby fields, the home, after-school programs, museums, and schools. Roughly, as with others who have studied these issues, the premise of this work is that engaging learners’ interests will lead to extended, self-sustained and deeply meaningful participation and learning in STEM. In this presentation, I begin by considering some key technical issues regarding the very character of interests (short- and long-term) and how one learns when in “interest mode.” As I follow STEM learning across settings, I then focus my analytical lens on to increasingly political dimensions of out-of-school, interest-driven learning and consider how these might inform STEM classroom practices.



Dr. Flavio Azevedo is an Associate Professor in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction at the University of Texas at Austin. His research is grounded in the learning and cognitive sciences and it is organized into three intersecting strands-the nature of STEM interests and interest-driven participation, learning out of schools, and foundations of cognition and learning in STEM disciplines. Broadly, the construct of interests refers to the diverse ways people engage any given activity, so that pedagogies for interest development can be powerful pedagogies of inclusion. These three research strands are thus conceived to shed light on interest-driven learning across timescales and settings of STEM practice, in- and out-of-schools, as well as the socio-cultural and political contexts of such practices, as means to broadening participation in STEM and to intervening on mechanisms that (re)produce educational and social inequities. This work has appeared in publications such as the Journal of the Learning Sciences, Cognition and Instruction, Science Education, and the Journal of Mathematical Behavior.