Research Topic

Cognitive Development in Informal Learning Institutions: Collaborations Advancing Research and Practice

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About this Research Topic

In recent years, the field of cognitive development has witnessed a dramatic increase in research in informal learning institutions (e.g., museums, libraries, science centers, aquariums, and zoos). Indeed, informal learning institutions provide opportunities to study children’s thinking, learning, memory, ...

In recent years, the field of cognitive development has witnessed a dramatic increase in research in informal learning institutions (e.g., museums, libraries, science centers, aquariums, and zoos). Indeed, informal learning institutions provide opportunities to study children’s thinking, learning, memory, attention, and executive functioning in natural contexts, and to gain insights into factors that can support the development of these skills. Along with advances in the understanding of cognitive development that have come through collaborations between researchers and informal learning institutions, they also have the potential to further inform educational practice. In this way, these collaborations are shaping new research questions and enabling scientific discoveries that can have broad impacts.

With this Research Topic, we aim to spotlight the growing number of research collaborations with informal learning institutions. To achieve this, we invite exciting, cutting-edge cognitive or social cognitive research representing a range of topics. We welcome contributions that are the result of collaborative research conducted with informal learning institutions, including (but not limited to) museums, libraries, science centers, zoos, and aquariums. We shall consider submissions that fall under the following article type categories: Original Research, Perspective, Mini-Review, Opinion, and Brief Research Report.

Research submitted to this Topic must involve the following:

• Children engaged in programs or interacting with exhibits within the institution’s space and/or those that fit with the institution’s goals;
• Addressing questions that are important in cognitive development or social cognitive development;
• Discuss implications of the work for research and practice in informal learning institutions.

The following topics are especially welcome:

• Studies involving children from diverse cultural communities;
• Studies considering how children learn in interactions with others (e.g., peers, parents, educators);
• Studies illustrating how informal learning research complements what we see in the lab.

The overall goal of this Research Topic is that papers will provide insights gained from examining children’s skills in informal learning settings, as well as programs that are designed to support exploration, play, and learning. Most importantly, papers will illustrate how collaborations with informal educational institutions can advance research and practice.


Keywords: informal learning, naturalistic, cognitive development, museums, collaborative


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

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