The Impact of Facilitation by Museum Educators on Family Learning at Interactive Math Exhibits: A Quasi-Experimental Study
Although discussions of museums often revolve around exhibits, educators in these spaces have the potential to create in-depth, social learning experiences beyond what is possible at exhibits alone. There is still little empirical research, however, to inform how we understand, approach, and improve museum facilitation practices. In this study, we sought to address this gap by quantifying the impact of facilitation by trained educators working with visitors at interactive museum exhibits and comparing this to visitor engagement and learning outcomes for families without educator support. Using a quasi-experimental design, we measured the impact of staff facilitation on visitor engagement time, mathematical reasoning, math awareness, satisfaction, and intergenerational communication across three different exhibits, four trained educators, and two experimental conditions. Multivariate regression modeling showed that staff facilitation had a positive impact on engagement time, mathematical reasoning, and satisfaction, a negative impact on intergenerational communication, and no impact on math awareness.
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