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Title: Facilitating Learner-Centered Interactions Through Applied Improvisation
Learner-centered interactions, whether in formal or informal settings, are by their nature unscripted and require both the educator and learner to improvise. In fact, improvisation skills have been recognized as beneficial and applied in a variety of professional development training programs (including science communication, organizational development in university administration, teambuilding and leadership in business, and communication skills in medical education); yet, their inclusion in educator training has been limited. MOXI and UCSB partnered with a professional actor and theater instructor (third author of this paper) to implement applied improvisation training to support informal educators' skills development. After four years of incorporating applied improvisation training in our facilitation training program, we have found that the basic skills of listening, observing, and responding that are critical in learner-centered education are taught effectively through the well-developed, practical, and fun exercises of improvisational theater. In this article, we describe our applied improvisation training and how it builds skills pertinent to implementing learner-centered facilitation, how graduates of our training program connected applied improvisation training to their facilitation, and how other institutions can incorporate it into preparing educators for working in either informal or formal settings.  more » « less
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Connected science learning
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National Science Foundation
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