Visitor Learning from a Science Centre Exhibition

Usha Chandraseharan, 20218671

How many of you have actually learnt something after a visit to the museum? There is such a vast amount of information that free to be learnt at the museum, but just how many of us leave satisfied? There may be many new discoveries that may leave us in awe, but what about learning and widening our knowledge? With the Contextual Model of Learning derived by Falk and Dierking, 12 factors have been derived that affect one’s ability to learn from an exhibition. These factors are divided into 3 categories, personal context, sociocultural context and lastly physical context. The experiment was carried out in the form of surveys and mostly their target audience was people who had a vast understanding of science, worked in science fields and also science graduates.

Evaluating this experiment was essential to appreciate the study as well as understand it in a better manner. Firstly, this experiment was open to the public. People who attended this exhibition were of various age, occupations, gender and such. With picking only the ‘science-knowledged’, it was pretty evident that the sample size achieved was relatively small and also, while narrowing down to the 3 categories, sample sizes only got smaller. With a small sample size, an experiment would be less accurate.

Also, 12 factors were claimed to have affected education in a museum. These 12 factors were divided into 3 categories and surveyed. The results showed that these categories  worked together in resulting an effect in museum learning. But the results did not show that these factors, on an individual basis, would affect education. Thus I believe not a perfect framework was used to analyse the amount one learned in an exhibition.

Lastly, surveys were done to attain results. Due to the vast improvement in technology these days, there are many new and interesting methods to confirm learning instead of surveys that do have a level of inaccuracy.



Falk, J.,  Storksdieck, M. (2005). Using the contextual model of learning to understand visitor learning from a science centre exhibition. Wiley Periodicals Inc, Sci Ed 89: 744-778


4 comments so far

  1. Feston Kwezani on

    Thank you very much for your post. I really agree that the sample size could have been really smaller by picking only those participants who had vast knowledge in science and worse still narrowing the categories down from 12 to three.I support the idea that the results obtained from this study were inaccurate.

    In addition, we should know that people will normally see what they want to see and hear what they want to. Selecting ‘science knowledged’ participants not only made the results inaccurate but biased as well.

  2. rusa20245779 on

    Hi Usha, good blog post

    I also agree that the sample size could have been a lot smaller and focus on a smaller range of ideas rather than many different ideas. In doing this we could gain a better understanding of one idea rather than a basic understanding of a wide variety of ideas!

    I agree with your point that they could have been more creative with their data collection- surveys, whilst being effective are very basic and with the new technologies available today, the researcher could have done more to make the report more interesting!!

  3. James Campbell on

    Good post, the researcher could have made use of computers to aggregate the survey, increasing the amount of people that they could take an opinion from. They could also have taken information from several museums as well to increase the sample size. Without doing so I guess they do not have a very useful study as you said!

  4. Steven Chew on

    Interesting blog post, Usha.

    However I’m a bit confused with the two previous comments. I believe that Usha is saying that the experiment would be more accurate if the sample size is increased. So perhaps the experiment should not only target the “science-knowledged” people, but a wider audience. Am I correct?
    Regardless, I think that the target audience should be widened. Depending on the questions of the survey, more people could be targeted to gain a wider understanding of the factors that affect a person’s ability to learn at an exhibition. While requiring more work to be done and more resources, I think the results will prove to be worth it.
    Regarding the method of surveys to collect data, I do agree that it is less interesting than other methods that could be utilized. However I’m sure surveys were chosen for a purpose. Surveys have been used time and time again in scientific experiments and they do have their merit. So there are ways to be more interesting, but the surveys are safer.

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