A Design-Based Research Study of Staff-Facilitated Family Learning at Interactive Math Exhibits

Just published online! 

Scott A. Pattison, Scott M. Randol, Andee Rubin,  Marcie Benne, Ivel Gontan, Elizabeth Andanen, Crosby Bromley, Smirla Ramos-Montañez & Lynn D. Dierking
 — 2017. Visitor Studies Vol. 20, Iss. 2, 2017


Staff facilitators in museums and science centers are a critical but often overlooked component of the visitor experience. Despite assertions about the important role they play in visitor learning, there continues to be almost no research to understand staff facilitation in these settings or identify effective practices. To address these gaps, we conducted a design-based research study to describe the work of experienced museum educators and iteratively refine a model of staff facilitation to support family learning at interactive math exhibits developed through a prior project. The resulting facilitation model identifies three visitor experience goals, outlines the cycle of responsive facilitation (observe, support, reflect) that educators used to support these goals, and highlights the physical, personal, and sociocultural factors that appeared to influence the nature and outcomes of the interactions. The model provides empirical support to guide professional development for museum educators and suggests future directions for visitor studies research.

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