“Researching the Value of Educator Actions for Learning (REVEAL) was a three-year, National Science Foundation (NSF)-funded research study carried out by the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI) between 2013 and 2017. In collaboration with TERC and Oregon State University, the team explored the role of museum educators in deepening and extending family engagement and […]
In an interview with exhibit and program designers at the Boston Children’s Museum, Margaret Middleton explores some of the common questions museum professionals might have about creating successful “multigenerational social learning experiences” that engage both children and adults. Middleton, Margaret. “Bring the Family: Children’s Museum Wisdom for the Rest of the Museum Community.” WestMuse Blog. Western Museums […]
From 2007-2011, three major art institutions, Frist Center for the Visual Arts, High Museum of Art, and The Speed, participated in a study examining “families’ value and use of interactive galleries in art museums and their motivations for visiting the spaces.” The Family Learning in Interactive Galleries website includes multiple resources related to the project, […]
In preparation for the Family Learning in Interactive Galleries (FLING) project, the principal researchers gathered all available literature on family learning in museums. This comprehensive review, circa 2010, covers the changing definitions of family, facilitation, audience motivations, social interaction, audience goals and values, parent behaviors, as well as describing the life-cycle of a family’s visit […]
This practical guide outlines various ways professionals can develop their programs, exhibits, and general museum atmosphere to best engage the public. Using examples mostly from the UK and Canada, Graham Black offers a synthesis of best practices and research to date, as well as case studies and infographics to illustrate his points.
Published by a group of informal science centers known as PISEC (which includes museums, a zoo and an aquarium), this handbook is intended for museum practitioners and visitor behavior researchers. It details the group’s three-phase investigation into the learning that occurs among families in museums. The handbook includes a literature review, and explains the group’s […]
Eric White describes how Old Sturbridge Village assessed their family audience and how they interacted with museum’s offerings. They then responded by developing exhibits and activities that attracted, entertained, and educated their family audience.
Have you ever wondered if children are learning in children’s museums or just being entertained? Researchers from Please Touch Museum in Philadelphia and Harvard University’s Project Zero teamed up to study the question. Their results: “YES, children are really learning”. Nancy Haas, Project Explore Manager at Please Touch Museum, details findings from the multi-phase research project including thoughts […]
This article describes “a range of front-end research studies intended to develop more specific knowledge concerning parent beliefs about how and what their children might learn from a museum visit, and how parents might be involved in that learning…the team then developed and user-tested prototype signage for the new exhibit spaces.” Swatz, Mallary I. and […]
The Adult Child Interaction Inventory (ACII) was the product of a three-year NSF-funded research project that aimed to better understand the non-verbal and verbal interactions between adults and preschool children in museums during STEM programs.
Sue Allen discusses how the diversity of experiences at the Exploratorium gave her an opportunity to “make comparisons among the kinds of learning experiences visitors have with different types of exhibit elements.” Allen also includes her advice on various methods of data gathering and analysis for exhibit evaluators.
Science museums often seek to create open-ended, interactive exhibits designed to support visitors in conducting scientific inquiry. Visitors, however, do not always have the skills or previous knowledge needed to perform in-depth investigations to answer certain scientific questions.
“APE was a four-year Exploratorium project funded by the National Science Foundation. Both an exhibit development endeavor and a visitor research study, the primary aim of APE was to explore strategies and tactics to shift the role of visitors from passive recipient of information to active participant in the exhibit experience.”
In this article, Minda Borun covers the basics of family learning in museums and places family learning within the wider context of informal learning. She also provides a summary of existing research regarding exhibit design, and provides examples of museums that have designed exhibits for multi-generational families.
Abstract: “We 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 […]
Abstract: “Three years after the Detroit Institute of Arts opened with all new, ‘visitor-centered’ galleries, the museum’s executive director of learning and interpretation shares the processes, successes, and lessons learned at an institution that embraced an array of hands-on learning models.
Dana Allen-Greil, author of the blog Engaging Museums, recounts a memorable experience at the Victoria and Albert Museum. Jet-lagged and with little time to spare, she and her colleagues didn’t feel like reading labels. In reality, we were the kind of visitors that actually come to your museum every day. And… we had an incredibly enjoyable experience […]
“Museums can serve as rich resources for families to learn about the social world through engagement with exhibits and parent-child conversation about exhibits. This study examined ways of engaging parents and child about two related exhibits at a cultural and history museum.
“Abstract: Research demonstrates that children have vast potential to expand their knowledge base with simple supports from adults and older children.
D.D. Hilke of the Smithsonian Institution considered what resources families bring to the museum visit. The author observes some strategies family use while exploring traditional and hands-on exhibits in a large natural history museum to better understand the dynamics of museum-going families.