Educational Resources Lets Talk Science Challenge participants

Formal and informal education

The role of formal and informal education (urbancow, iStockphoto)

The Role of Formal and Informal Education

Let's Talk Science
Format
Grades
7 8 9 10 11 12
Jurisdiction
AB,  BC,  MB,  NB,  NL,  NS,  NT,  NU,  ON,  PE,  QC,  SK,  YT

Summary

Students will develop an understanding of the differences between, and value of, both formal and informal education in the career development process.

Setting the Stage

Formal education refers to systematic, curriculum-based, teacher-directed learning that happens within an institution such as a school, college, or university. Formal education is based on a set curriculum.  Informal education refers to learning that results from activities related to daily life experiences, work, family, or leisure. Both formal and informal education settings offer different strengths and value to a career path. A balance of the two forms of education can help students develop skills such as common sense, problem solving, empathy, etc.

Material & Preparation

  • Arrange for computer and internet access for students working in pairs or groups.
  • Students will need to be introduced to both formal and informal education and their roles in the career development process. 
  • Download the Formal and Informal Education Reproducible (1 per student) [Google Doc] [PDF]
  • Download the Formal and Informal Education Exit Slip Reproducible (1 per student) [Google Doc] [PDF]
  • The following websites provide useful information for conducting and evaluating debates:

What to Do

Students should proceed to the Let’s Talk Science careers website to access and review the following three profiles: 

  • Bryan Wilson, who followed an informal education path 
  • Taleitha West, who has a formal education that involved a university path
  • Kyle Corbishley, who has a formal education path that involved college certifications and apprenticeship.

After they have reviewed the three profiles, students should answer the questions on the Formal and Informal Education Reproducible. An answer key is available in the section below.  Alternatively, teachers could lead a class discussion using the questions for focus.

After students have reviewed the three profiles, teachers should divide the class into two groups in preparation for a debate. One group will argue the benefits of formal education and the other group will argue the benefits of informal education. Each group will develop arguments to support their side, recording them in the table provided. Teachers could then lead a debate allowing students to share their opinions and arguments for their sides.

Debate groups – Potential arguments students may include

Pro-formal education Pro-informal education
  • Development of a specialized skill set
  • Meet job market employment standards 
  • Cultivate organizational skills
  • Correlation between salary and level of education
  • Social status
  • Job security
  • Networking 
  • Up-to-date and accurate training
  • Appeals to diverse learning styles
  • Development of interpersonal skills 
  • Development of decision-making skills  
  • Cultivate listening skills
  • Common sense evolves
  • Level of patience evolves 
  • Work ethic can improve with maturity and experience
  • Less costly and more time efficient
  • More personal and less intimidating
  • Learning happens more naturally, employees are less likely to resist

 

Post-debate discussion – Possible Guiding questions:

  • Who is more secure in their field? Why?
  • Who would you prefer to work with? Why?
  • Who has better intrapersonal skills? Who has better intrapersonal skills?
  • Who might require further training? Why?
  • How could Bryan benefit from formal training?
  • How could Lauren benefit from informal training?

To conclude the lesson teachers could guide a discussion about the importance of balancing formal and informal education. When finished the discussion, students should complete the reflection questions using the Exit Slip Reproducible.

Details

Answer Key

Answer Key for student Reproducible - Formal and Informal Education

Informal Education - Bryan Wilson

1. What is Bryan’s occupation?

  • General Manager, North American Palladium, Lac Des Iles Mine

2. What are some things that Bryan enjoys most about his job?

  • He enjoys working with people, the challenging environment, safety and innovation, meeting goals, and the feeling of blasting rock.

3. What are some of the personality traits that helped Bryan achieve success in this specific industry?

  • Bryan enjoys working outside, working with his hands, learned best by “doing”, as a kid he liked to take things apart to see how they worked, and liked to design and build things. 

4. Research Bryan’s employment experience and indicate what useful skills he acquired from having that position. Complete the table below.

Position held Skills acquired
Drove a truck How to operate and look after equipment
Gold mine in Northwestern Ontario 14 years of experience working in the industry provided deep understanding of various activities in the mine, management needs, etc.
Nickel and copper mine in Sudbury Learned about various types of mining  by supervising
Sudbury basin mine Leadership skills as general foreman

 

5. Despite challenges, what has helped Bryan succeed? 

  • Staying positive and continuing to learn has helped him succeed. 

Watch the video of Bryan in the workplace. Answer the questions below.

6. According to Bryan, what should high school students do in order to ensure a successful career in the mining industry? 

  • Despite being a product of informal education, Bryan encourages formal STEM courses as much as possible, as well as investing in the trades, particularly electrical, mechanical, instrumentation, and information technology. 

7. According to Bryan, what skill is imperative for this industry?

  • He emphasizes the importance of teamwork and working well with others to achieve a common goal.

Formal Education Sample 1 – Taleitha (Tia) West

1. What is Tia’s occupation?

  • Bachelor of Arts in Applied Science in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Toronto

2. What are some things that Tia enjoys most about her job?

  • Having new projects and challenges to work on. Building things from scratch and getting information that others can use.

3. What are some of the personality traits that led Tia to this career? 

  • She enjoys working with her hands, she likes to design and build things, he likes taking charge, and she likes working with others.

4. Research Tia’s formal education and indicate what useful skills she acquired from having the education. Complete the table below.

Level of Education Skills acquired
High School graduate Laboratory Skills, Ability to use various computer technologies, problem solving skills
Bachelor of Applied Science Provided skills involved in making calculations to build things.

5. What types of informal education could help Tia progress in this industry?

  • Student answers will vary but may include the following: Seeking experiences working with others, rather than alone. She should also seek experience outside of her field of study to diversify her knowledge and become more employable. She will also benefit from reading articles and attending conferences so she can keep up with new developments in her field.

Formal Education Sample 2 - Kyle Corbishley

1. What is Kyle’s occupation?

  • Plumber, Gas Fitter 1, Cross connection specialist

2. What are some things that Kyle enjoys most about his job?

  • He likes that his job is not boring; every day is different with different challenges to be solved. He also likes that his training helps him repair emergency situations. 

3. What are some of the personality traits that led Kyle to this career? 

  • He likes working outside. He likes to solve problems and work with others as part of a team.

4. Research Kyle’s formal education and indicate what useful skills he acquired from having the education. Complete the table below.

Level of Education Skills acquired
High School graduate Laboratory skills, ability to use technology
Ontario Youth Apprenticeship Program Learned about different aspects of the skilled trades
College/Apprenticeship Developed the skills and knowledge to be a plumber
College Certification in specialized aspects related to plumbing and gas fitting

 

5. What types of informal education could help Kyle progress in this industry?

  • Seeking work experiences where he can take on leadership roles. Volunteer with an organization where he could take on different roles that will develop skills of planning and financial management.   These would help him advance into management if he wishes.
Answer Key

Answer Key for student Reproducible - Formal and Informal Education

Informal Education - Bryan Wilson

1. What is Bryan’s occupation?

  • General Manager, North American Palladium, Lac Des Iles Mine

2. What are some things that Bryan enjoys most about his job?

  • He enjoys working with people, the challenging environment, safety and innovation, meeting goals, and the feeling of blasting rock.

3. What are some of the personality traits that helped Bryan achieve success in this specific industry?

  • Bryan enjoys working outside, working with his hands, learned best by “doing”, as a kid he liked to take things apart to see how they worked, and liked to design and build things. 

4. Research Bryan’s employment experience and indicate what useful skills he acquired from having that position. Complete the table below.

Position held Skills acquired
Drove a truck How to operate and look after equipment
Gold mine in Northwestern Ontario 14 years of experience working in the industry provided deep understanding of various activities in the mine, management needs, etc.
Nickel and copper mine in Sudbury Learned about various types of mining  by supervising
Sudbury basin mine Leadership skills as general foreman

 

5. Despite challenges, what has helped Bryan succeed? 

  • Staying positive and continuing to learn has helped him succeed. 

Watch the video of Bryan in the workplace. Answer the questions below.

6. According to Bryan, what should high school students do in order to ensure a successful career in the mining industry? 

  • Despite being a product of informal education, Bryan encourages formal STEM courses as much as possible, as well as investing in the trades, particularly electrical, mechanical, instrumentation, and information technology. 

7. According to Bryan, what skill is imperative for this industry?

  • He emphasizes the importance of teamwork and working well with others to achieve a common goal.

Formal Education Sample 1 – Taleitha (Tia) West

1. What is Tia’s occupation?

  • Bachelor of Arts in Applied Science in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Toronto

2. What are some things that Tia enjoys most about her job?

  • Having new projects and challenges to work on. Building things from scratch and getting information that others can use.

3. What are some of the personality traits that led Tia to this career? 

  • She enjoys working with her hands, she likes to design and build things, he likes taking charge, and she likes working with others.

4. Research Tia’s formal education and indicate what useful skills she acquired from having the education. Complete the table below.

Level of Education Skills acquired
High School graduate Laboratory Skills, Ability to use various computer technologies, problem solving skills
Bachelor of Applied Science Provided skills involved in making calculations to build things.

5. What types of informal education could help Tia progress in this industry?

  • Student answers will vary but may include the following: Seeking experiences working with others, rather than alone. She should also seek experience outside of her field of study to diversify her knowledge and become more employable. She will also benefit from reading articles and attending conferences so she can keep up with new developments in her field.

Formal Education Sample 2 - Kyle Corbishley

1. What is Kyle’s occupation?

  • Plumber, Gas Fitter 1, Cross connection specialist

2. What are some things that Kyle enjoys most about his job?

  • He likes that his job is not boring; every day is different with different challenges to be solved. He also likes that his training helps him repair emergency situations. 

3. What are some of the personality traits that led Kyle to this career? 

  • He likes working outside. He likes to solve problems and work with others as part of a team.

4. Research Kyle’s formal education and indicate what useful skills he acquired from having the education. Complete the table below.

Level of Education Skills acquired
High School graduate Laboratory skills, ability to use technology
Ontario Youth Apprenticeship Program Learned about different aspects of the skilled trades
College/Apprenticeship Developed the skills and knowledge to be a plumber
College Certification in specialized aspects related to plumbing and gas fitting

 

5. What types of informal education could help Kyle progress in this industry?

  • Seeking work experiences where he can take on leadership roles. Volunteer with an organization where he could take on different roles that will develop skills of planning and financial management.   These would help him advance into management if he wishes.
Assessment
  • Teachers could collect students’ Exit Slip reflections as formative evaluation. Students could include their reflection in their portfolio.
Assessment
  • Teachers could collect students’ Exit Slip reflections as formative evaluation. Students could include their reflection in their portfolio.
Downloads
  • Formal and Informal Education Reproducible (1 per student) [Google Doc] [PDF]
  • Formal and Informal Education Exit Slip Reproducible (1 per student) [Google Doc] [PDF]
Downloads
  • Formal and Informal Education Reproducible (1 per student) [Google Doc] [PDF]
  • Formal and Informal Education Exit Slip Reproducible (1 per student) [Google Doc] [PDF]