The Impact of Facilitation by Museum Educators on Family Learning at Interactive Math Exhibits: A Quasi-Experimental Study

December 14th, 2018 | RESEARCH

Although discussions of museums often revolve around exhibits, educators in these spaces have the potential to create in-depth, social learning experiences beyond what is possible at exhibits alone. There is still little empirical research, however, to inform how we understand, approach, and improve museum facilitation practices. In this study, we sought to address this gap by quantifying the impact of facilitation by trained educators working with visitors at interactive museum exhibits and comparing this to visitor engagement and learning outcomes for families without educator support. Using a quasi-experimental design, we measured the impact of staff facilitation on visitor engagement time, mathematical reasoning, math awareness, satisfaction, and intergenerational communication across three different exhibits, four trained educators, and two experimental conditions. Multivariate regression modeling showed that staff facilitation had a positive impact on engagement time, mathematical reasoning, and satisfaction, a negative impact on intergenerational communication, and no impact on math awareness.



Team Members

Scott Pattison, Author, TERC
Andee Rubin, Author, TERC
Marcie Benne, Author, Oregon Museum of Science and Industry
Ivel Gontan, Author, Fleet Science Center
Elizabeth Andanen, Author, Oregon Museum of Science and Industry
Todd Shagott, Author, Oregon Museum of Science and Industry
Melanie Francisco, Author, Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research Northwest
Smirla Ramos-Montañez, Author, Oregon Museum of Science and Industry
Crosby Bromley, Author, Salem-Keizer School District
Lynn Dierking, Author, Oregon State University


Identifier Type: issn
Identifier: 1934-7715
Identifier Type: doi
Identifier: 10.1080/10645578.2018.1503879

Publication: Visitor Studies
Volume: 21
Number: 1
Page(s): 4-30


Funding Source: NSF
Funding Program: AISL
Award Number: 1321666

Related URLs

Research: Researching the Value of Educator Actions for Learning (REVEAL)


Audience: Evaluators | Families | Learning Researchers | Museum | ISE Professionals
Discipline: Education and learning science | Mathematics
Resource Type: Peer-reviewed article | Research Products
Environment Type: Exhibitions | Museum and Science Center Exhibits | Museum and Science Center Programs | Public Programs

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This material is supported by National Science Foundation award DRL-2229061, with previous support under DRL-1612739, DRL-1842633, DRL-1212803, and DRL-0638981. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations contained within are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of NSF.

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