Chemistry outreach as a community of practice: investigating the relationship between student-facilitators’ experiences and boundary processes in a student-run organization
Previous work on chemistry outreach has mainly focused on designing and implementing demonstrations for outreach. Recent studies indicate student organizations are at the forefront of chemistry outreach and described their outreach practices and conceptual understanding of demonstrations. However, more research is needed regarding the experiences of facilitators leading outreach events to understand their motivation, what they are gaining from participating, how they are contributing to the community, etc. By providing this information, we can give more structure to outreach initiatives as an informal learning environment. This work is part of a larger study that explores the relationship between leadership in student organizations and chemistry outreach events. Here, we present how diversity plays a role in chemistry outreach, as informed by interviews involving nine graduate students who actively participated in outreach. Communities of practice (CoP) has been used as a framework to describe learning environments and student organizations participating in outreach can be thought of as a CoP. The findings suggest diversity and inclusion influence boundary processes of the student organization as a CoP. Specifically, students’ prior experiences related to gender, race/ethnicity, education and other outreach events play a role in their purpose for doing chemistry outreach, how they contribute to planning of events and how they interact with the audience of outreach events.