University of Oulu

Dimitra Christidou, Iro Voulgari, Gabriella Tisza, Behnaz Norouzi, Marianne Kinnula, Netta Iivari, Sofia Papavlasopoulou, Adrián Gollerizo, Jose María Lozano González & Dafni Konstantinidi Sofrona (2022) Obstacles and challenges identified by practitioners of non-formal science learning activities in Europe, International Journal of Science Education, 44:3, 514-533, DOI: 10.1080/09500693.2022.2035466

Obstacles and challenges identified by practitioners of non-formal science learning activities in Europe

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Author: Christidou, Dimitra1; Voulgari, Iro2; Tisza, Gabriella3;
Organizations: 1Department of Computer Science, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Trondheim, Norway
2Institute of Digital Games, University of Malta, Msida, Malta
3Department of Industrial Design, Eindhoven University of Technology, Eindhoven, The Netherlands
4INTERACT Research Unit, University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland
5Design for Change Spain, Madrid, Spain
6Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, Madrid, Spain
7Science Museum Group, London, UK
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 2.7 MB)
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Language: English
Published: Informa, 2022
Publish Date: 2022-04-25


Despite the increasing demand for non-formal science learning activities, few studies report on practitioners’ perspectives and experiences with designing and implementing such activities worldwide. This paper focuses on their challenges by drawing upon twenty-two interviews with practitioners involved in diverse science learning activities in various non-formal settings in seven European countries. By including diverse activities and settings, this study contributes to the existing knowledge base, addresses the aforementioned gap in the literature, and informs future practices. Our findings suggest that despite the existing and celebrated diversity, practitioners face similar challenges related to (a) the activities’ organisation and management, (b) the competencies required to run such activities, and (c) the attitudes held by the parties involved in them. Direct interview quotes exemplify each theme, further pinpointing the interconnection of multiple factors that inform the organisation and implementation of non-formal science learning activities. The findings allowed for a deeper understanding of challenges reported in the literature and shed light on the challenges voiced by the practitioners including the multiple competencies required and the workload. We conclude with a discussion foregrounding the need to build a knowledge base of shared practices in the field of non-formal science learning.

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Series: International journal of science education
ISSN: 0950-0693
ISSN-E: 1464-5289
ISSN-L: 0950-0693
Volume: 44
Issue: 3
Pages: 514 - 533
DOI: 10.1080/09500693.2022.2035466
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 113 Computer and information sciences
Funding: This study was conducted for the COMnPLAY SCIENCE project, funded by the European Union's Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation programme, under grant agreement NO 787476. This paper reflects only the authors’ views. The Research Executive Agency (REA) and the European Commission are not responsible for any use that may be made of the information it contains.
EU Grant Number: (787476) CoM_n_Play-Science - Learning science the fun and creative way: coding, making, and play as vehicles for informal science learning in the 21st century
Copyright information: © 2022 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives License (, which permits non-commercial re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, and is not altered, transformed, or built upon in any way.