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Sampling experience in science learning outside the classroom

Learning is a lifelong process. A process that equips you with the knowledge, values, skills, and competencies to address present and future societal challenges. This process, however, can be directed by many external influences – social, economic, locality, and mood. How then do we begin to assess what drives young learners' engagement in learning activities, thoughts, and feelings during the day to day activities and during science learning workshops?

Within SySTEM 2020 the Experience Sampling Method (ESM) has been used to assess the impact of time, mood, and social environments on STEAM learning (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Maths). This method is comprised of a sequence of questionnaires, capturing a participants’ momentary experience.


As a series of short surveys, the ESM provides a good way into the insights of the way young learners feel about science at a specific moment in time, getting a sense of positive science attitudes. In the context of the SySTEM 2020 project, it was used to investigate the non-formal learning experience of workshop participants as well as dynamics in their learning experience and mood dependencies.


The guide in hand can be used by researchers as well as workshop facilitators who want to get an insight into the way a group of students experience science learning in a non-formal and informal context over a long period of time.


The ESM works best if you work with a group of students who are involved in a series of science activities over a long period of time e.g. a school class or workshop participants.


A couple of tips to get you going:

  • Make sure participants understand why they should answer the surveys and that they are aware of the timeframe.
  • Make sure that all participants have access to some kind of device e.g. mobile phone or diary.
  • Think about methods to motivate them to answer all questionnaires.
  • Many more tips and guidelines in our ESM how-to guide.

You can access the full how-to guide by visiting the SySTEM 2020 website.


  • Science learning
  • learning
  • education