Informal Science Learning: an investigation of how novelty and motivation affect interest development at a mobile laboratory
MobiLLab is a mobile science education program designed to awaken young people’s interest in science and technology (S&T). Perceived novelty, or unfamiliarity, has been shown to affect pupils’ educational outcomes at similar out-of-school learning places (OSLePs) such as museums and science centers. A study involved 215 mobiLLab pupils who responded to three surveys: a pre-preparation, at-visit, and post-visit survey. Results provide evidence for four dimensions of pupils’ at-visit novelty: curiosity, exploratory behavior, oriented feeling, and cognitive load. Findings also show that classroom preparation time, pupils’ perceived capability with technology, and dispositional curiosity related most strongly to their S&T attitudes. The study offers specific insights into how educators can develop materials, activities, and learning settings that appeal to both genders and that support development of desired educational outcomes, such as interest and knowledge. As settings that foster learner autonomy, OSLePs are uniquely positioned to engage learners in S&T topics and careers.