Integrating Developmental and Free-Choice Learning Frameworks to Investigate Conceptual Change in Visitor Understanding

Monday, April 13, 2009
Resource Type:
Mass Media Article | Reference Materials
Environment Type: 
Exhibitions, Museum and Science Center Exhibits
Elementary School Children (6-10) | Middle School Children (11-13) | Adults | General Public | Museum/ISE Professionals | Evaluators
Education and learning science | General STEM | Life science
University of Michigan, University of Nebraska, Lincoln, Sam Noble Museum, University of Nebraska State Museum

Complex ideas like evolution—which run counter to common, but mistaken, intuitive knowledge—are challenging, both for exhibit developers and for the evaluation and research teams who assess the impact of exhibitions. It is always difficult to document measurable changes in deep conceptual understanding following a single visit to an exhibition; Is this even possible with complex topics, such as evolution? In this article, we summarize a series of studies that may offer some help to exhibit developers and evaluators, as well as others who design and assess informal learning experiences. The studies chart changes in visitors' learning based on a framework that integrates findings from recent studies on age-related changes in children's conceptual understanding —a developmental framework—with findings from studies on free-choice learning.

Publication Name: 
Visitor Studies Association

Team Members

Amy SpiegelAmy SpiegelAuthor
Wendy GramWendy GramAuthor
Judy DiamondAuthor

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