Science Cafés: Exploring Adults’ Motivation to Learn Science in a Community Space

Gina Childers, Donna Governor, David Osmond, Stacey Britton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Science Cafés create open, public forums to promote the exchange of ideas between science experts and the public. This study explored Science Café attendees’ interest in science content, and motivational factors in attending events as well as documenting what attendees did with the information presented at an event through the means of a survey (n = 124) and interviews (n = 17). The Synthesized Elements for Informal Learning Experiences at Science Cafés represents a merged perspective of informal learning environments, based on self-determination theory and the contextual model of learning. The synthesized elements (endogenous and ecological) may provide an explanation of the public’s motivation in attending Science Café events. Based on survey and interview data, the majority of participants reported endogenous elements (knowledge and learning; fulfills personal needs) as motivational factors to attend Science Café events. Additionally, attendees stated ecological elements, such as social interactions, with other attendees and science experts were significant motivational influences to attend events. Survey and interview respondents cited they share and discuss the information gained from a Science Café event with others in their social network (e.g., family members, friends, and colleagues). This information may inform best practices in connecting the community to science experts in order to share scientific endeavors and documenting the profound effect science has on the public.

Original languageEnglish
JournalResearch in Science Education
StateAccepted/In press - 2021


  • Adult learning
  • Informal science education
  • Motivation
  • Science cafés


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