Staff-mediated learning in museums: A social interaction perspective

September 25th, 2013 | RESEARCH

Educators, docents, and interpreters are considered integral to the learning experiences at many museums. Although there is growing recognition that these staff members need professional development to effectively support visitor learning, there has been little research to describe their work or identify effective facilitation strategies. To address this need, we explored the nature of unstructured staff-facilitated family learning at the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry in Portland, OR, videotaping and inductively analyzing 65 unstructured staff-family interactions. The analysis highlighted the importance of role negotiation between staff and adult family members, particularly during the initiation of interactions, staff and visitor facilitation of family learning, and the introduction of new learning goals by staff members. Aligned with prior research on family learning in museums, adult family members played a critical role in shaping the nature of the interactions and determining the level of involvement of staff members. Findings have important implications for both future research and the professional development of staff.



Team Members

Oregon State University, Contributor
Scott Pattison, Author, Oregon State University
Lynn Dierking, Author, Oregon State University


Identifier Type: doi
Identifier: 10.1080/10645578.2013.767731

Publication: Visitor Studies
Volume: 16
Number: 2
Page(s): 117


Audience: Evaluators | Families | Museum | ISE Professionals | Parents | Caregivers
Discipline: Chemistry | General STEM | Physics
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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