Research: Exhibit Designs for Girls' Engagement (EDGE)
This research project led by the Exploratorium will use a combination of tracking and timing, cluster analysis, and focus groups to seek to answer the research question: To what extent and in what ways do female-responsive designs more effectively engage girls at STEM exhibits? This project addresses the need for more research in this area by pioneering the study of potential female-responsive design (FRD) principles for exhibits across a wide variety of STEM topics and exhibit types. This project includes four phases that will build from the work of the PI that developed an initial Female-Responsive Design (FRD) Framework regarding female engagement and learning in STEM -- based on extensive literature review and practitioner interviews. This project will expand on and validate this FRD Framework, with the ultimate goal of having a set of criteria for female-responsive designs (FRD) that effectively engage girls at STEM exhibits. The four phases of the research project are: Phase 1: Track 1000 boys and girls across three institutions using over 300 physics, engineering, and math exhibits to identify which exhibits engage boys and girls equally, and which are less engaging for girls. Phase 2: A panel of experts and girl advisors identify additional female-responsive design principles, expanding on those identified to date in literature and practice. Phase 3: Combining results from the first two phases, the third phase employs statistical analyses to reveal the most effective combinations of design principles for engaging girls across a variety of exhibits. Phase 4: This qualitative phase conducts focus groups with girls to explore how the final FRD Framework works to better engage them, and how their learning differs at exhibits that exemplify the principles in the Framework.