Agricultural Leadership, Education & Communication Department


Date of this Version

Summer 7-2016


Valentine, D. (2016). Examining bridges between informal and formal learning environments: A sequential mixed method design (Master’s thesis).


A THESIS Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Master of Applied Science, Major: Applied Science, Under the Supervision of Professor Bradley Barker. Lincoln, Nebraska: July 2016

Copyright (c) 2016 Dagen Lynn Valentine


The purpose of this sequential mixed method study was to identify schools implementing a technology-based engineering design intervention in a way that connects or bridges formal learning environments of the school-day to informal learning environments such as afterschool programs. Further, this study investigated educators’ decisions that enabled or facilitated bridging between formal and informal learning environments. This cooperation and/or linking between informal and formal learning time is bridging. Participants included public schools (n=16) in Eastern Nebraska that incorporated the Nebraska Wearables Technology (WearTec) program at their school, club or Out-of-School-Time program during the 2015-2016 school year. Three of the schools bridged formal and informal environments. For this study descriptive statistics were used to analyze the implementation of the WearTec curriculum and as a means to select schools which bridged the formal and informal learning environments. Interviews with a priori codes and thematic analysis were analyzed in a matching/exploratory case study of the schools that bridged formal and informal learning environments (n=3). Thematic and descriptive analysis of interviews suggests a pair of educators can create a bridge due to the WearTec curriculum, state standards, and interpersonal communication. Also, a single formal day teacher can create a bridge by creating informal learning opportunities in out-of-school time.

Advisor: Bradley Barker