Designing for Productive Struggle
2018 to 2020

We are serving as external evaluator for the Designing for Productive Struggle project, initiated by the Museum of Science, Boston, and funded by the National Science Foundation. The project explores how informal science learning experiences can support visitors’ engagement in “productive struggle” – that is, learning that is exhilarating, challenging, intensive, and fruitful.

The project is using a design-based research approach to build understanding of how designed features of informal learning experiences can be leveraged to support visitors to engage in and benefit from productive struggle. This research is empirically developing and refining a model of productive struggle and its impact in designed informal learning experiences, and elaborating a flexible set of evidence-based, inclusive design guidelines and strategies for eliciting and supporting visitor engagement in productive struggle.

Our external evaluation serves three major purposes: (1) monitor the progress that the project is making towards its goals and objectives; (2) provide oversight and guidance to ensure that the research methods employed are rigorous and that the research findings are valid and reliable; and (3) explore how research and practice inform and influence each other in this project.