Testing the Impact of a Computer Guide on Visitor Learning Behaviors at an Interactive Exhibit

October 1st, 2012 | RESEARCH

There is a recognized need to rigorously examine the efficacy of approaches to supporting informal learning. In this study, we used a 2 × 2 factorial experimental design to test the impact of a computer guide on 3 proximal measures of visitor learning at an interactive math exhibit. In total, 128 families were systematically assigned to engage with the exhibit either with or without access to a supplementary computer kiosk. Visitor groups with access to the computer spent longer, on average, at the exhibit and engaged in more mathematical behaviors compared to other groups. However, based on interviews, visitors with access to the computer were less likely to fully articulate the mathematical relations in the exhibit. These results suggest that although computer guides are a promising approach to supporting visitor engagement, they may, unless carefully designed, undermine other learning outcomes.



Team Members

Oregon Museum of Science and Industry, Contributor
Scott Pattison, Author, Oregon Museum of Science and Industry
Scott Ewing, Author, Oregon Museum of Science and Industry
Angela Frey, Author, Oregon Museum of Science and Industry


Identifier Type: doi
Identifier: 10.1080/10645578.2012.715010

Publication: Visitor Studies
Volume: 15
Number: 2
Page(s): 171


Funding Source: NSF
Funding Program: ISE/AISL
Award Number: DRL-0714634


Audience: Families
Discipline: Mathematics | Social science and psychology
Resource Type: Peer-reviewed article | Research Products
Environment Type: Exhibitions | Games | Simulations | Interactives | Media and Technology | Museum and Science Center Exhibits

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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 InformalScience.org are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of NSF.

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