Science Self-Efficacy and Lifelong Learning: Emerging Adults in Science Museums
Recent research suggests that emerging adulthood—the stage between adolescence and maturity marked by a lengthy process of identity development—constitutes a window of opportunity for museums to influence adults’ lifelong science learning trajectories. The current study sought to explore the impact of a single museum visit on emerging adults’ science self-efficacy, beliefs about their own abilities to learn or do science. A repeated measures design assessed the science self-efficacy of 244 emerging adults before, immediately after and three months after a science museum visit. Results from surveys and interviews indicate that self-efficacy increased after the visit, but only females maintained their elevated self-efficacy three months after the visit. Increases were associated with the visit and with self-reports citing “mastery” at exhibits, vicariously watching others at exhibits, and positive emotional experiences within the museum. The paper discusses the study's limitations as well as implications for research and museum practice.