Facilitating Family Group Inquiry at Science Museum Exhibits

January 1st, 2010 | RESEARCH

The authors describe a study of programs to deepen families' scientific inquiry practices in a science museum setting. The programs incorporated research-based learning principles from formal and informal educational environments. In a randomized experimental design, two versions of the programs, called inquiry games, were compared to two control conditions. Inquiry behaviors were videotaped and compared at pretest and posttest exhibits. Family members were also interviewed about their perceptions and use of the inquiry games. Results indicated that visitors who learned the inquiry games improved their inquiry more than those who did not. Effect sizes ranged from 0.3 to 0.7, depending on the assessment measure. Visitors who learned the collaborative inquiry game showed even more improvement than those who learned the individualized game, spending more time investigating the posttest exhibit, making more frequent and more abstract interpretations of their experiments, building more collaborative explanations, and engaging in more coherent inquiry investigations than controls. Qualitative analysis suggested that the collaborative inquiry game was superior because it required all family members to participate, work together, and explicitly articulate their interpretations. Visitors in all conditions enjoyed their experience, varied in what they liked and disliked, and reported applying what they had learned at new exhibits.


(no document provided)

Team Members

Josh Gutwill, Author, Exploratorium
Sue Allen, Former Co-Principal Investigator, Allen and Associates


Identifier Type: issn
Identifier: 1098-237X

Publication: Science Education
Volume: 94
Number: 4
Page(s): 710


Funding Source: NSF
Funding Program: ISE/AISL
Award Number: 0411826
Funding Amount: 1256847

Related URLs

Facilitating Group Scientific Inquiry Using Science Museum Exhibits
Full Text


Audience: Evaluators | Families | Museum | ISE Professionals
Discipline: Education and learning science | General STEM | Physics
Resource Type: Peer-reviewed article | Research Products
Environment Type: Exhibitions | Games | Simulations | Interactives | Media and Technology | Museum and Science Center Exhibits