SOS Docents are informal science teachers and although many of you may have
formal teaching experience, still many of you don’t. You may find this section
helpful for refreshing your practice in education facilitation and lining up
your presentation with education standards in earth science.
Establish a Question-based, Brains-on Method of Audience Interaction
General rules for encouraging audience participation: Promote inquiry by asking
thought-provoking questions, allow plenty of personal processing time, and
break down the barriers between yourself and your audience by establishing a
dialogue. The following techniques come directly from the Museum of Science and
Industry of Chicago.
In order to help establish a dialogue, the docent can ask questions from the
beginning and continue to ask questions throughout out the program, rather than
just stating the facts. Also, if you take the time to establish eye contact,
your audience will feel more comfortable asking questions thus promoting
dialogue and discussions.
Encourage participation by thanking and acknowledging all answers. If an answer
is misguided, remain positive and redirect the guest to the correct content.
Ask follow up questions to help clear up misunderstanding. Asking the visitor
to explain why they think what they think is a great way to see the angle of
their understanding or misconceptions. Sometimes, even if the answer is
correct, you should ask for evidence and explanations.
Pause after asking a question to give the guests time to think about it and
consider an answer. A good rule of thumb is to internally count to five before
continuing. If working with a very young audience, wait until about half of
their hands are raised before calling on someone.
For K-12, Refer to the National Science Education Standards
Although the venue you are teaching from is different than a formal education
classroom, it can be helpful to browse the National Science Education
Standards that are designed
to incorporate the best practices to facilitate student learning.
In the vision presented by the Standards, inquiry is a step beyond “science as
a process,” in which students learn skills, such as observation, inference, and
experimentation. The new vision includes the “processes of science” and
requires that students combine processes and scientific knowledge as they use
scientific reasoning and critical thinking to develop their understanding of
science. Engaging students in inquiry helps students develop:
Understanding of scientific concepts
An appreciation of “how we know” what we know in science
Understanding of the nature of science
Skills necessary to become independent inquirers about the natural world
The dispositions to use the skills, abilities, and attitudes associated with