REVEAL – Responsive Museum Facilitation: A Video-Based Reflection Guide for Engaging with Families at Interactive Exhibits

February 1st, 2017 | RESEARCH

Museums, science centers, and other informal education institutions offer powerful engagement and learning experiences for children and adults of all ages. Staff facilitators, such as museum educators or docents, play an important role in these settings and can enhance and deepen visitors’ interactions at exhibits and during programs. By effectively balancing the exploration of educational content with sensitivity to the needs and desires of visitors, facilitators create personalized interactions with the potential to impact visitors long after the experience is over. Despite their important role, however, it’s rare for staff to have the opportunity to watch other facilitators in action, learn about and practice new facilitation strategies, or discuss their practice with peers and colleagues. Even rarer are quality, sustained, research-based professional development resources to help these individuals reflect on their work and improve their practice.

The video-based professional development program presented in this guide is intended to help fill this gap and provide a catalyst for staff facilitators in museums, science centers, and other informal learning environments to discuss, reflect on, and improve their educational practices in conversation with their colleagues. The materials were developed as part of the REVEAL project, which studied the work of facilitators interacting with families at interactive exhibits in a science center (see Introductory Session Handout 1, “Provoking Reflection”). While other professional development (PD) projects have focused on more formal programs, such as stage demonstrations or classes for school groups, this professional development resource centers on informal, conversational interactions between staff and visitors. In addition to being a common way that staff members engage with visitors, we believe these types of unscripted interactions offer unique opportunities for educators to capitalize on the characteristics of informal learning and enrich visitor experiences while still allowing families to pursue their own goals and priorities.



Team Members

Elizabeth Andanen, Author, Oregon Museum of Science and Industry
Andee Rubin, Author, TERC Inc.
Scott Pattison, Author, Oregon Museum of Science and Industry
Ivel Gontan, Author, Oregon Museum of Science and Industry
Crosby Bromley, Author


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

Related URLs

REVEAL: Researching the Value of Educator Actions for Learning


Audience: Families | Museum | ISE Professionals
Discipline: General STEM
Resource Type: Reference Materials | Report
Environment Type: Professional Development | Conferences | Networks | Professional Development and Workshops

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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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