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Deepening Students' Scientific Inquiry Skills During a Science Museum Field Trip


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Field trips to science museums can provide students with educational experiences, particularly when museum programs emphasize scientific inquiry skill building over content knowledge acquisition. We describe the creation and study of 2 programs designed to significantly enhance students' inquiry skills at any interactive science museum exhibit without the need for advanced preparation by teachers or chaperones. The programs, called Inquiry Games, utilized educational principles from the learning sciences and from visitor studies of museum field trips. A randomized experimental design compared 2 versions of the games to 2 control conditions. Results indicate that the groups that learned the Inquiry Games significantly outperformed the control groups in the duration and quality of several inquiry skills when using a novel exhibit, with effect sizes ranging from 0.3σ to 0.8σ. The highest gains came from an Inquiry Game that was structured and collaborative rather than spontaneous and individualized. Students and chaperones in all conditions reported enjoying the experience. These results mirror those found in a previous study in which family groups learned the Inquiry Games.
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Deepening Students' Scientific
Inquiry Skills During a Science
Museum Field Trip
Joshua P. Gutwill a & Sue Allen a b
a Exploratorium, San Francisco, California, USA
b National Science Foundation, Arlington, Virginia,
Available online: 24 Jun 2011
To cite this article: Joshua P. Gutwill & Sue Allen (2012): Deepening Students'
Scientific Inquiry Skills During a Science Museum Field Trip, Journal of the Learning
Sciences, 21:1, 130-181
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ISSN: 1050-8406 print / 1532-7809 online
DOI: 10.1080/10508406.2011.555938
Deepening Students’ Scientific Inquiry
Skills During a Science Museum Field Trip
Joshua P. Gutwill
Exploratorium, San Francisco, California
Sue Allen
Exploratorium, San Francisco, California and
National Science Foundation, Arlington, Virginia
Field trips to science museums can provide students with educational experiences,
particularly when museum programs emphasize scientific inquiry skill building over
content knowledge acquisition. We describe the creation and study of 2 programs
designed to significantly enhance students’ inquiry skills at any interactive science
museum exhibit without the need for advanced preparation by teachers or chap-
erones. The programs, called Inquiry Games, utilized educational principles from
the learning sciences and from visitor studies of museum field trips. A random-
ized experimental design compared 2 versions of the games to 2 control conditions.
Results indicate that the groups that learned the Inquiry Games significantly out-
performed the control groups in the duration and quality of several inquiry skills
when using a novel exhibit, with effect sizes ranging from 0.3σto 0.8σ. The highest
gains came from an Inquiry Game that was structured and collaborative rather than
spontaneous and individualized. Students and chaperones in all conditions reported
enjoying the experience. These results mirror those found in a previous study in
which family groups learned the Inquiry Games.
Do students learn science when they go on a field trip to a science museum?
Museum educators and researchers have been wrestling for decades over the
Correspondence should be addressed to Joshua P. Gutwill, Exploratorium, 3601 Lyon Street, San
Francisco, CA 94123. E-mail:
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question of whether field trips offer significant learning experiences for children,
particularly compared to the learning experiences of school (for reviews of the lit-
erature, see Bitgood, 1989; DeWitt & Storksdieck, 2008; Koran, Koran, & Ellis,
1989; Price & Hein, 1991).
The question arises in part because the sociocultural contexts of learning in
schools and museums differ to a large degree (Falk & Dierking, 1992, 2000;
Griffin & Symington, 1997). Schools, driven by the pressures of high-stakes
testing and other measures of student achievement, rely largely on students’
extrinsic motivation to receive adult approbation and high grades. Learning activ-
ities are often constrained by needs for curriculum coverage of science content,
and teachers meet these needs by designing their classrooms to be structured
environments, often emphasizing symbolic representations over experimentation
with real phenomena (National Research Council, 2007). In a complementary
way, science museums are designed to support voluntary, self-directed learning,
emphasizing affective responses such as positive attitudes toward science, inter-
est in scientific careers, and feelings of empowerment to make sense of the natural
world (Association of Science-Technology Centers, 2002; Ecsite-uk, 2008; Falk &
Dierking, 1992, 2000; Friedman, 2008; Hein, 1998; National Research Council,
2009). “Rich with real-world phenomena, these are places where people can pur-
sue and develop science interests, engage in science inquiry, and reflect on their
experiences through sense-making conversations” (National Research Council,
2009, p. 15).
The gulf between these two learning contexts, in combination with educa-
tors’ epistemological beliefs about what constitutes learning, leads many teachers
and museum staff to overlay on open-ended field trip experiences additional
structures such as worksheets or didactic tours that emphasize concept learn-
ing. Unfortunately, activities that focus on factual learning may actually interfere
with student-driven experimentation in museums (Cox-Petersen, Marsh, Kisiel, &
Melbe, 2003; Griffin & Symington, 1997; Price & Hein, 1991). At the same time,
too little structure can also be detrimental to the field trip as a learning experi-
ence by encouraging little or no connection back to the activities of the classroom
(Griffin & Symington, 1997; Tal, Bamberger, & Morag, 2005). Research suggests
that the most effective field trips are those with intermediate levels of structuring,
offering students limited choices (Bamberger & Tal, 2007) or a mix of free-
choice and more structured activities (National Research Council, 2009; Price &
Hein, 1991).
Some experimental approaches have been successful at fostering concept learn-
ing by creating such experiences. For instance, Griffin (1998a, 1998b) developed
the SMILES program, in which teachers learn to use the museum as a science
resource for their classroom, situating the field trip within a related curricular
unit but letting students explore the museum in search of information and ideas
relevant to their own projects. Others have developed worksheets and chaperone
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guides that support free-choice exploration of school topics (Burtnyk & Combs,
2005; Mortensen & Smart, 2007).
We hy p o t h e s i z e that one of the ob s t a c l e s t o the widespr e a d u s e o f t h ese
approaches is that they require some level of preparation—substantial in the case
of SMILES, but still significant for teachers using free-choice worksheets and
guides. Unfortunately, studies have found that preparatory hurdles are often too
great for harried teachers to overcome (Burtnyk, 2004).
Here we report an approach to deepening students’ learning and creating
bridges between school-based and informal learning but without such a significant
time investment by teachers. Our framework shifts the learning goals for the field
trip away from promoting conceptual change and toward helping students build
scientific thinking skills. Facilitating skill building presents several advantages as
the focus of educational field trips:
1. Critical thinking and scientific inquiry skills are highly valued in docu-
ments that define science education at the national level. For example,
the National Science Education Standards declare, “Inquiry is central
to science learning. When engaging in inquiry, students describe objects
and events, ask questions, construct explanations, test those explanations
against current scientific knowledge, and communicate their ideas to oth-
ers” (National Research Council, 1996, p. 2). Similarly, inquiry skills are
advocated in both formal and informal settings as a key “strand” of science
learning (National Research Council, 2007, 2009). Our goal is to develop
field trip programs that engage students in this key aspect of scientific
2. Museums provide ideal environments for learning and practicing inquiry
skills. While playing with exhibits, students on field trips can try var-
ious experiments, make observations, and have memorable experiences
(Gottfried, 1980). Over the past 15 years, science museums have fur-
ther increased their capacity to support such experiences by creating more
exhibits that support and extend visitors’ inquiry (e.g., Bailey, Bronnenkant,
Kelle y, & Hein , 1998; B orun et a l., 1998 ; Humph rey & Gutw ill, 20 05; Sau ber,
1994). By providing an environment that explicitlysupports hands-on, direct
investigation of natural phenomena, museums offer teachers a vast inquiry
learning resource difficult to reproduce in schools.
3. There is some evidence that inquiry skills may transfer more easily than
scientific concepts and principles. For example, learning skills such as ask-
ing questions can set students up to learn more effectively in new situations
(Bransford & Schwartz, 1999).
4. A focus on inquiry skills alleviates the need for teachers to identify specific
museum content that intersects with their core school curricula, reducing
the call for extensive preparation.
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In summary, we argue that skill building may bridge the formal and informal
worlds of science education by using the strengths of science museums to meet a
significant need in schools. We are not the first or only researchers to promote the
idea of inquiry learning in field trips. DeWitt and Storksdieck’s (2008) review
of field trip effectiveness concluded that “field trip offerings should be based
on exploration, discovery and process skills rather than transmission of facts”
(pp. 190–191). In a review of their own evaluations of field trip programs span-
ning 30 years, Price and Hein (1991) defined educationally effective programs
as “those in which products are not emphasized, inquiry is sparked, open-ended
questions are generated, and students actively participate and appear involved”
(p. 510).
What our current work contributes is a set of specific programmatic techniques
for giving field trip students a “crash course” in inquiry skills within the context
of a museum’s exhibit floor. Learning or even practicing inquiry skills on a field
trip is not a simple endeavor. Although open-ended exhibits can support inquiry,
visitors, especially children, often do not conduct coherent, in-depth investigations
to answer their questions (Randol, 2005). Some inquiry skills are challenging even
for people with science backgrounds (Allen, 1997; Loomis, 1996).
In a previous study, we explored related issues in the context of the general
public, creating a set of Inquiry Games for family groups that were well received
and that successfully enhanced certain inquiry practices, compared to controls,
when families played them at a novel exhibit (Allen & Gutwill, 2009; Gutwill &
Allen, 2010a). Based on this success, we have attempted to adapt the Inquiry
Games for use by field trip groups, attending to key differences between family
and field trip learners, to determine whether they could serve as useful models for
furthering the educational agenda of museum field trip visitors.
Funded by the National Science Foundation, this project was carried out at the
Exploratorium, San Francisco’s museum of science, art, and human perception,
and was named GIVE (Group Inquiry by Visitors at Exhibits).1
Our study of Inquiry Games with field trip groups addressed the following
Can inquiry be taught in the museum context without the need for pre- or
postvisit work in the classroom?
1The GIVE team developed the Inquiry Games in collaboration with staff from the Exploratorium’s
Explainer and Institute for Inquiry programs, the Visual Thinking Strategies program staff at the San
Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and an advisory board of experts with a range of expertise.
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Can such coaching of inquiry skills meet participants’ expectations for
the field trip and provide an optimal mix of structure versus choice, as
suggested in the literature?
Is there any evidence that the inquiry skills learned during such a field trip
experience transfer to new settings?
In addition, we addressed a comparative question related to learners:
How does the inquiry learning of field trip groups compare with that of
intergenerational family groups?
Most research-based inquiry programs in schools aim to teach skills such as asking
questions, making predictions, designing experiments, analyzing data, reasoning
with models, drawing conclusions, and communicating results (e.g., Minstrell &
van Zee, 2000; White & Frederiksen, 1998). During our pilot phase, we attempted
to help family groups learn such skills in the form of a sequence and then assessed
whether they could apply them at a novel exhibit. Unfortunately, in the museum
context the cognitive load proved too great for the families; groups would simply
forget and thus skip certain skills. (The details of our pilot work in this area are
reported in Allen & Gutwill, 2009.) Based on the results of several iterations, we
limited the inquiry skills in our program to the following two:
1. Proposing Actions (PA). This skill involves making a plan or asking a
question at the start of an investigation.
2. Interpreting Results (IR). This includes making observations, drawing
conclusions, or giving explanations during or after an investigation.
These two skills complement students’ natural exploration activity at exhibits,
are intellectually accessible to diverse groups of students aged 10–13, and are
simple enough for students to understand quickly and remember easily. Previous
research has shown that these skills are rarely practiced by intergenerational (fam-
ily) visitors (Randol, 2005). We hypothesized that school students would be even
less adept at applying them, especially in field trip groups in which the child-to-
adult ratios are higher than in families. Furthermore, even if students do silently
ask questions before manipulating an exhibit or mentally draw conclusions after
using it, articulating such thoughts overtly can move a group’s investigation for-
ward by putting ideas into public spaces for improvement by peers (Quintana
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et al., 2004; Scardamalia, 2002). We further hoped that these skills might foster
other inquiry behaviors, such as explanation building or hypothesis testing.
Many inquiry processes developed for schools take the form of a cycle that
students may repeat as results lead to new questions (e.g., Champagne, Kouba, &
Hurley, 2000; Chinn & Malhotra, 2002; Songer, 2004; White & Frederiksen,
1998). Similarly, our inquiry process, shown in Figure 1, allows for cyclical inves-
tigation of phenomena at museum exhibits. The dark ovals in Figure 1 indicate the
skills that we explicitly taught visitors, whereas the light oval represents a skill that
visitors spontaneously perform when using an interactive science museum exhibit
(Randol, 2005).
Pedagogical St ruc tures
In our prior work, the research team had created activity structures referred to as
Inquiry Games in order to teach visiting families the two targeted inquiry skills.2
Many rounds of iterative design culminated in two different Inquiry Games, one
collaborative and structured and the other supportive of individual spontaneity
FIGURE 1 Simplified inquiry cycle with the two targeted skills shown in the dark ovals.
2The Inquiry Games did not have winners and losers but were “games” in the sense that they
contained steps for play, rules, and a structure for social interaction. The term game helped us focus
the attention of students and chaperones on the inquiry process rather than on the exhibits used in the
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(see Allen & Gutwill, 2009, for more details about our pedagogical choices in
developing the games). When switching from families to field trip groups, we felt
that the formats of the two Inquiry Games required only small modifications to be
Juicy Question game. In the first game, called Juicy Question, students and
their chaperone work together to identify and jointly investigate a single question
that is juicy, explicitly defined as a question that can be answered at the exhibit
and to which nobody initially knows the answer. To begin, the group members
explore the exhibit to become familiar with it. Next, they stop and take turns shar-
ing a question they each have about the exhibit. They then choose one of the
questions and investigate it as a group. Finally, they stop to reflect on what they
have discovered, sharing their ideas until they feel finished. Each person receives
discoveries (IR).
The Juicy Question game is highly collaborative: Students and their chaperone
must negotiate to choose a single question to pursue, and they must agree on when
to stop experimenting to generate interpretations or new questions. Managing the
collaborative process requires a facilitator. The museum educator takes this role
at first but then asks the chaperone to take it over, using a process of scaffolding
and fading (Brown, Collins, & Duguid, 1989; Collins, Brown, & Newman, 1989).
Because chaperones have varying degrees of facilitation experience, they are given
group played the game twice (at two different exhibits) before they were asked to
do it alone at the posttest exhibit (see Figure 2 for the experimental design).
Hands Off game. We hypothesiz e d t h a t t h e J u icy Quest i o n g a m e m i ght
require more collaboration than a field trip group would be capable of achieving,
given that chaperones are often unfamiliar with most of the students in their care
and that we could not count on an established dynamic of collaboration among the
students themselves. We anticipated that students might respond more naturally to
an activity structure that supported more individual activity. Our alternative game,
Hands Off, allows anyone at any time to call out “Hands off!”, at which time the
other group members must stop using the exhibit and listen to the caller. At that
point, the caller can share either a proposal for something they wish to investi-
gate (PA) or a discovery about the exhibit (IR) before calling “Hands on” again.
Overall, the game teaches students and chaperones to use the same two inquiry
skills as Juicy Question but in a more individual and spontaneous way. No facil-
itator is needed, and the game is particularly easy to remember. For consistency
with Juicy Question in our study, the chaperone was given a special card as a
reminder to support the rules of the game.
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Principles Underlying the Inquiry Games
Despite their different pedagogical structures, both Inquiry Games incorporated
several key principles from the school-based science education literature.
Build on learners’ prior knowledge. It is well known that students build
new knowledge out of prior experience (Piaget, 1978; Roschelle, 1995; von
Glasersfeld, 1989; Vygotsky, 1962). Both Inquiry Games incorporated this
principle by allowing students to raise and pursue their own questions about an
exhibit rather than prescribing specific science content that should be learned.
This also helped support students of different ages, from different schools, study-
ing different science topics, to work in their own “zones of proximal development”
(Vygotsky, 1978). According to DeWitt and Storksdieck (2008), field trip pro-
grams struggle to reach field trip students at their individual levels: “It can be
difficult for museum practitioners to provide experiences specifically appropri-
ate to each student’s prior knowledge” (p. 185). By generating and pursuing
their own questions, students could better connect with the exhibit at their own
Te a c h v i a m o d e l i n g , sc a f f o l d i n g , a n d f a d i n g . We emb raced the pe dagogic al
approach of “cognitive scaffolding” (Wood, 2001), in which an educator uses
questions, prompts, and other structured interactions as cognitive supports for
learners during an extended investigation (Samarapungavan, Mantzicopoulos, &
Patrick, 2008). The educator then gradually “fades,” allowing the learners to
continue autonomously (Collins et al., 1989; Vygotsky, 1978). In the current study,
students and chaperones played an Inquiry Game three times, each time with a
novel exhibit. The educator gradually faded from the role of facilitator, first by
helping the chaperone facilitate, then by disappearing entirely and giving the group
full autonomy. We envisioned this process as embodying nested zones of proximal
development in which first our educator scaffolded the process for chaperones and
students and later chaperones scaffolded it for students. Such an approach was
particularly important for helping parent chaperones who were assigned to a group
of children they may not have known well (Parsons & Breise, 2000).
Identify skills explicitly. Students learn new skills better when they are
explicitly articulated, demonstrated, and practiced (Labudde, Reif, & Quinn,
1988; Palincsar & Brown, 1984; White & Frederiksen, 1998). In our study, the
educator explicitly stated the purpose and key steps of the Inquiry Game and
named instances of the specific skills as students practiced them in the context
of the conversation at the exhibit (e.g., “That sounds like a discovery,” or “Does
anyone else have a question they want to ask?”).
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Support metacognition. Another important factor in learning is metacog-
ing (Bransford, Brown, & Cocking, 2003; Brown, 1975; Chi, Bassok, Lewis,
Reimann, & Glaser, 1989; Flavell, 1973). In this project, we targeted two skills
that had a strong metacognitive component: asking a question and reflecting
on what was learned during an investigation. Both skills required students and
chaperones to monitor their own knowledge state and its changes.
Support collaboration. Finally, learning in groups often improves moti-
vation and achievement (Tobin, Tippins, & Gallard, 1994). This is especially
important in museums, where field trip students visit in class groups (Griffin,
1998b). Our study focused on field trip groups of 5–7 students and a parent chaper-
one who had probably never before worked together. Both Inquiry Games offered
turn-taking strategies to help the participants learn effectively as a group.
In addition to these learning principles, we incorporated three principles from
the literature on museum field trip groups.
Strike a balance between choice and guidance. In their review of
research on museum field trips, DeWitt and Storksdieck (2008) concluded that
“field trips should provide a moderate amount of structure while still allowing for
free exploration” (p. 186). Our Inquiry Games attempted to find that sweet spot:
On the one hand, they structured students’ interactions by encouraging them to ask
questions, make interpretations, and take turns in rule-based ways. On the other
hand, the games allowed students the freedom to choose which exhibits to use and
to generate and pursue their own questions at the exhibits. In short, we designed
the games to help students improve their own collaborative inquiry process within
Place realistic demands on teachers. Much of the literature on museum
field trips laments teachers’ lack of integration of the visit into the classroom
learning experience (e.g., Cox-Petersen et al., 2003; Griffin & Symington, 1997).
Preparing students and chaperones for an educational museum experience can be
difficult, as many teachers do not visit the museum before the field trip (Tal et al.,
2005) and others may not understand how learning works in museums (Kisiel,
2003). After the field trip, many teachers fail to connect the experience back to stu-
dents’ work in the classroom (DeWitt & Storksdieck, 2008; Griffin & Symington,
1997). The Inquiry Games, learnable in less than 20 min at two museum exhibits,
required no preparation from students, chaperones, or teachers.3
3Participants were required to do additional administrative preparation, as described later, because
they were participating in a research study, but the games themselves could be learned without the
need for prior preparation.
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Create a useful role for chaperones. Few studies have focused on the
role of chaperones, but those that have have found that chaperones can have an
important impact on student learning (Burtnyk & Combs, 2005; Parsons & Breise,
2000). Unfortunately, the potential for chaperones to make an educational contri-
bution is often squandered by the overwhelming need for logistical support during
the field trip (Parsons & Breise, 2000). In our program, chaperones learned, prac-
ticed, and fulfilled the role of group facilitator in the course of playing the games.
The facilitator role offered chaperones the opportunity to participate with students
in a useful learning process.4
After studying the family group audience, we conducted a similar randomized
controlled study to test the impact of the Inquiry Games on field trip groups’
inquiry behaviors at exhibits. (For more details about the experimental design, see
Gutwill & Allen, 2010a.) We randomly assigned participating field trip groups to
one of four conditions and compared their behaviors while using the same set of
exhibits. The four conditions differed in terms of the kind of activity the field trip
group engaged in:
1. Juicy Question: The group learned and played two rounds of the Juicy
Question game at two different exhibits.
2. Hands Off: The group learned and played two rounds of the Hands Off
3. Exhibit Tour Control: The group listened to an interactive description of
the science content and developmental history of two exhibits but was not
taught any generalizable skills.
4. Pure Control: The group used the exhibits without any game or educational
We stu d i e d 4 6 fi e l d t rip groups in e a c h o f t h e f o u r condition s , o r 1 8 4 g r o u ps
altogether. We recruited field trip groups by contacting teachers from public
schools who had already reserved a field trip to the museum.5Amenable teachers
4We acknowledge that this program took place within the specialized context of a research study in
a lab separated from the museum floor and that all parties had agreed to participate ahead of time. Our
future work will explore the degree to which chaperones can facilitate the games on the open floor.
5We recruited groups from public schools and used published data on their free and reduced lunch
programs as a rough measure of students’ socioeconomic status. In the 113 schools that sent student
groups to participate in our study, an average of 49% of the students qualified to receive free or reduced
lunch. We did not, however, collect socioeconomic data on individual students.
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4th Exhibit
3rd Exhibit
2nd Exhibit
Hands Off
N = 46
3rd Exhibit
2nd Exhibit
Exhibit Tour Control
N = 46
3rd Exhibit
2nd Exhibit
Pure Control
N = 46
2nd Exhibit 3rd Exhibit
Juicy Question
N = 46
3 weeks
FIGURE 2 Experimental design and participant flow.
arrived at the museum with parent-signed consent forms for each child and pre-
selected participant groups composed of 5–7 students and one parent chaperone.
(Teachers were not allowed to act as chaperones out of concern that they would
enforce their own learning agendas rather than implement those in the study. We
regarded this as a reasonable filter on our sample, given that most of the children
on field trips are entrusted to chaperones who are not themselves teachers.) The
study was conducted in a research laboratory at the back of the museum so that
we could videotape the groups using exhibits for detailed analysis (see Figure 3).
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FIGURE 3 The study’s laboratory was located just off the museum floor.
By comparing students and chaperones who had learned the Inquiry Games to
those who had not, we could determine whether the games helped field trip groups
conduct in-depth inquiries at novel exhibits.
Data Collection
The sequence of participation for each field trip group was as follows: Students
and their chaperone entered the lab, used a first exhibit as they normally would
(pretest), learned to play one of the Inquiry Games at two more exhibits (unless
they were in one of the two control conditions), and used a final exhibit on their
own (posttest). At the final exhibit, we asked them to play the Inquiry Game if
they had learned one or simply use the exhibit normally if they were in one of the
control groups. Finally, the chaperone and one child were chosen to participate in
interviews after the experience (see Figure 2).6
6To reduce distraction and group fragmentation in the lab, we covered the exhibits with tablecloths
and removed them only for the exhibit in use at any given time. In addition, group members were
asked to remain together at each exhibit until the entire group was ready to move on to the next
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Exhibits in the Study
The four exhibits used in the study were originally developed to support visitor-
driven investigation by (a) offering multiple options for visitors to explore,
(b) having no obvious endpoint or message to convey, and (c) providing mul-
tiple access points so that group members could use the exhibit simultaneously
(Humphrey & Gutwill, 2005). The exhibits, in the order field trip groups used
them, were as follows:
1. Shaking Shapes (pretest exhibit). This exhibit consists of a vibrating table
upon which loose geometrical shapes spin and shake. Student groups typi-
cally build structures and investigate their structural stability and rotational
motion. Groups in our study used this exhibit without any prior instruction
(see Figure 4).
2. Floating Objects (second exhibit). Students can experiment with air pres-
sure and flow by placing differently shaped objects—wiffle balls, small
basketballs, plastic pears and apples, and ping-pong balls—in a vertical
air stream. By tilting the air jets, groups may discover the surprising result
FIGURE 4 A field trip group using the Exploratorium’s Shaking Shapes exhibit.
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FIGURE 5 The Exploratorium’s Floating Objects exhibit.
that a ball can float in a slanted air stream. Groups in the inquiry conditions
were facilitated by our staff educator. Figure 5 shows the Floating Objects
3. Unstable Table (third exhibit). By building structures on a gimbaled table,
students explore the concepts of torque and counterweight to keep the plat-
form balanced. Chaperones in the two Inquiry Game conditions were asked
to try facilitating while our staff educator provided support (see Figure 6).
4. Making Waves (posttest exhibit). Magnetically coupled pendulums hang
from a common spine, creating rippling wave patterns or more chaotic
motion, depending on students’ actions. Students may experiment with
wave phenomena and magnetic attraction. Groups used this exhibit with-
out the presence of our staff educator but were asked to play an Inquiry
Game if they had learned one. See Figure 7 for the Making Waves exhibit.
All field trip groups encountered the exhibits in the fixed sequence presented
above. We had considered using a counterbalanced design but rejected it because
our resources did not permit the increase in sample size needed to achieve the
same degree of analytical power. In addition, our experiment already utilized
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FIGURE 6 The Exploratorium’s Unstable Table exhibit.
two blocking variables (teacher and condition) and blind recruiters, and we were
concerned that adding another blocking variable (exhibit sequence) would intro-
duce substantial human error in managing the study. The fixed design maximized
power for identifying the differential treatment effects of our program, with the
limitation that those effects may not generalize beyond this particular exhibit
Assessing Inquiry
Using StudiocodeTM video analysis software, we assessed groups’ inquiry behav-
iors at the pretest and posttest exhibits to determine whether playing the Inquiry
Games enhanced their inquiry skills. We used the same dependent variable codes
to assess field trip groups’ inquiry behaviors as we had used with our family
groups, because we felt the behaviors would be common to both studies. These
were as follows.
Engagement. We mea s u r e d t h e l e ngth of time a gr o u p c h o s e t o spend at the
exhibit (i.e., holding time) as an indicator of its engagement.
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FIGURE 7 The Exploratorium’s Making Waves exhibit.
Proposing Actions (Skill 1). We ca p t u red the number , frequency, an d d u r a -
tion of instances by groups of PA, which was one of the skills targeted in the
intervention. The PA utterances were coded at two levels—high and low. A low-
level PA (PA1) would include only the action a participant wanted to take (“What
if we pull it faster?”) or only the effect they hoped to induce (“Can we make the
wave bigger?”), but not both. A high-level PA (PA2) would include both the action
and the desired result (“Let’s see if we get the end magnets to swing hard by only
pushing the middle magnets”).
Interpreting Results (Skill 2). As with PAs, we counted the number, fre-
quency, and duration of instances of IR. We coded IR at two levels. A low-level
IR (IR1) would involve only direct observation, with very little abstraction beyond
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the moment (“The yellow ones barely spin”). A high-level IR (IR2) would gen-
eralize (“If you stack them up, they spin faster”), explain the results of the
experiment (“Those shapes spin faster because they barely touch the table so
there’s less friction”), or offer an analogy (“It’s like the way dominoes fall down.”)
Collaborative Explanations. We tal l i e d t h e n u m ber of times mul t i p l e g r o up
members interpreted results in rapid succession and called these “Consecutive
IRs.” An example would be “The papers we put between the pendulums didn’t
stop them” followed immediately by “Yeah, because magnets can go through
paper.” Consecutive IRs often occurred in strings of various length. For this code,
we counted the percentage of a group’s IRs that were consecutive, as well as
the longest string of Consecutive IRs spoken in a group.7Typ ically such co n -
versational turn taking indicated that group members were building a shared
understanding. We did not explicitly teach groups to discuss their interpretations
in this way but assessed it on the grounds that developing an explanation is an
important aspect of successful inquiry, and building explanations jointly with
others reflects a collaborative process.
Coherent Investigations. To assess the “depth” of a group’s inquiry, we
counted the number of times group members connected their investigations so
that one experiment followed another in a coherent way (e.g., “Let’s see what
happens when you block out a magnet” followed by a second experiment proposed
with “If we block out a lot of magnets, what happens?”). This meant looking
at each PA instance to see if it was linked to the one before it by a common
theme (e.g., interrupting magnetic field). We counted the number of PAs that were
linked in this way and called the longest string of them the Linked PA score. Like
Consecutive IRs, Linked PAs was not a skill targeted in the games but was taken
as an additional and independent indicator of the overall quality of the group’s
Reliability of Inquiry Coding Schemes
Multiple research assistants blind either to condition or to the purpose and
hypotheses of the study coded the videos of field trip groups at the pretest and
posttest exhibits. In our previous study of families, we measured the interrater reli-
ability of our coding schemes and found that they surpassed the acceptable norms
reported in the literature. However, we were concerned that field trip groups might
be more difficult to code than families. (For example, field trip groups are larger
7For two IR utterances to be counted as consecutive, the gap between the end of the first utterance
and the start of the second had to be less than 2 s. Because of the rules of our coding scheme, this
ensured that two different people uttered the two IRs.
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and have more children, which could make consecutive comments harder to dis-
cern.) Consequently, we retested the reliability of the coding schemes on 10% of
the new data set using measures appropriate to the nature of the specific codes.
For the PA and IR codes, we calculated Cohen’s kappa statistic for interrater
agreement, a measure that accounts for the probability of agreements happening
by chance (Bakeman & Gottman, 1997). The kappa statistic for these codes was
found to be 0.77, about the same as the kappa for the codes of the family group
data (0.76). (A kappa greater than 0.75 is considered to be good to excellent agree-
ment beyond chance; Fleiss, Levin, & Paik, 2004; Landis & Koch, 1977.) For the
Linked PA codes (Coherent Investigations) we calculated an intraclass correlation
coefficient assessing the degree to which the coding scheme distinguished among
field trip groups equally well for different coders (Bakeman & Gottman, 1997).
The coefficient for Linked PA codes was found to be 0.68, which is conventionally
viewed as “good” reliability (Cicchetti & Sparrow, 1981; Fleiss, 1981). (This was
slightly lower than the statistic found for the codes of the family data, 0.70.) We
calculated scores for Consecutive IRs (Collaborative Explanations) automatically
using the IR data, so they did not necessitate an additional check for interrater
reliability. Likewise, interrater reliability was not necessary for time at exhibit
(engagement), because frame-by-frame measurements were easily accurate to
within 1 s.
Par ticipants’ Self-Repor ts
To assess participants’ responses to the experience, we interviewed and surveyed
the chaperone and one randomly chosen child from each group. We conducted two
types of interviews. Immediately after the participants used the exhibits, we asked
them what they liked and disliked about the experience and how likely they would
be to use the Inquiry Game (or the Exhibit Tour information) in the future. Three
weeks later, we interviewed the same child and chaperone again by phone, asking
what they could remember of the experience and whether they had in fact used the
game (or Exhibit Tour information) on the museum floor or outside the museum.
All interview data were coded redundantly by two coders who negotiated any
erones about their age, gender, highest level of schooling, and highest level of
science attained in school. The survey data were used in the analysis to ensure that
there were no demographic differences across treatment and control conditions.
Assessing Conceptual Understanding
Although we developed the entire program to deepen scientific inquiry rather
than teach any specific content, we were interested to see whether students’
interpretations of their own investigations were generally correct or incorrect with
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respect to canonical science. In keeping with the informal nature of learning in
museums, we did not wish to “test” students and chaperones in the interview, so
we indirectly measured correctness of understanding by revisiting the video data
and recoding all sophisticated interpretations (IR2s) in terms of their fit with sci-
entific canon. Two coders separately categorized each IR2 as correct, incorrect, or
uncodeable and then met to work out all disagreements. An uncodeable response
would be one for which the coders (a) could not understand the words spoken, (b)
could find no science content relevant to the exhibit, or (c) could not categorize
the utterance as correct or incorrect within five viewings of it.
Hypotheses and Planned Comparisons
Before collecting our data, we articulated our hypotheses for the study. We
believed that the Inquiry Games would have similar effects on family and field
trip groups, so we decided to conduct the same planned comparisons on field
trip group data that we had performed on family group data in our previous study.
(Carrying out identical analyses in the two studies also had the advantage of allow-
ing us to compare results across the two audiences.) We had three overarching
hypotheses for the field trip groups, with concomitant planned comparisons:
1. Inquiry Games should improve inquiry behaviors. As with families, we
predicted that students and chaperones who learned the Inquiry Games
would use the inquiry skills we taught them (PA and IR) more fre-
quently and for longer durations. We thought it possible but less likely
that they would also outperform the control groups in their frequencies
of other inquiry behaviors that were not directly taught (e.g., Coherent
Investigations and Collaborative Explanations). Overall, our planned com-
parison predicted an effect of inquiry,suchthattheJuicyQuestionand
Hands Off conditions would outperform the Exhibit Tour condition on our
measures of inquiry.
2. Prior mediation should enhance the experience. Based on studies showing
that interactions with museum staff are among the most memorable aspects
of a museum experience (e.g., Allen, 2004; Piscitelli & Weier, 2002),
we predicted that students and chaperones who had spent time with our
museum educator would have a more positive experience than those who
had not. We also thought that prior mediation might lead to better inquiry
behaviors at the posttest exhibit, particularly longer holding times. Thus,
our planned comparison predicted an effect of prior mediation,suchthat
the Exhibit Tour condition would outperform the Pure Control condition.
3. Peda g o g y s h ould aff e c t i n q u i ry. We h a d c o m peting hypo t h e s e s a b o ut which
pedagogical approach—group collaboration or individual control—would
be more successful at helping visitors engage in inquiry. We predicted that
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the collaborative nature of Juicy Question might make for deeper inquiry,
whereas the focus of Hands Off on turn taking might make it easier for
students to work together. Consequently, our planned comparisons used
two-tailed measures to test for an effect of pedagogy.
To implement the planned comparisons in statistical tests, we used a pre/post
difference score for each dependent variable coded from the videotapes. Interview
and survey data yielded only posttest scores. The difference scores or posttest
scores were then compared across conditions using analyses of variance. When
differences were significant for the planned comparisons, we conducted additional
post hoc ttests to reveal underlying patterns.
In this section, we first report on the demographics of the students and chap-
erones in the different conditions. Then we describe the effects of the Inquiry
Games on groups’ inquiry behaviors. Next we report participants’ reflections on
their experiences. Finally, we describe the scientific correctness of the groups’
Overall, the main pattern of results was as follows: (a) There were no differ-
ences in demographics across conditions; (b) the Inquiry Games, especially Juicy
Question, increased the quantity and quality of field trip groups’ scientific inquiry
behaviors from pretest to posttest; (c) although all students enjoyed the experi-
ence, a quarter of the students who had learned Juicy Question, more than the
number of students in any of the other conditions, reported using the targeted
skills at museum exhibits outside the lab; and (d) most groups in the two inquiry
conditions tended to make correct interpretations after instruction.
Demographic Attributes of the Field Trip Groups
Students and chaperones in each group filled out a demographic survey before
interacting with the exhibits; the results are shown in Tables 1 and 2. Chi-square
and Fisher exact tests of the data indicated that there were no differences by
condition for any of the variables we assessed. This result means that any differ-
ences in inquiry behaviors should not be attributed to differences in the measured
demographic variables.
Although we found no differences in demographics across conditions, we
hoped to use the demographic variables of age and education level as covari-
ates in our planned comparisons. However, only a small number of dependent
variables correlated with these demographic variables. Even in those cases, using
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TA B L E 1
Demographics of Student Groups in Each Experimental Condition
Condition, M (SD)
Demographic Variable Juicy Question Hands Off Exhibit Tour Pure Control
Eldest student’s age 11.1 (0.72) 11.3 (0.78) 11.1 (0.64) 11.1 (0.73)
Group grade level 5.2 (0.59) 5.4 (0.62) 5.3 (0.59) 5.2 (0.58)
Number of boys in group 2.3 (1.6) 2.7 (1.7) 2.6 (1.5) 2.8 (1.7)
Number of girls in group 3.2 (1.6) 2.9 (1.5) 2.9 (1.5) 3.0 (1.3)
Proportion of students in group with
“special interest, knowledge, or
training” in science
0.46 (0.32) 0.51 (0.30) 0.55 (0.27) 0.52 (0.31)
TA B L E 2
Demographics of Parent Chaperones in Each Experimental Condition
Chaperones (n =46 per Condition)
Demographic Variable Juicy Question Hands Off Exhibit Tour Pure Control
18–25 1 1 3 0
26–35 9 8 12 10
36–45 27 18 20 28
46–55 8 13 11 6
56–65 1 6 0 2
Male 13 15 10 10
Female 33 31 36 36
Highest schooling level attained
No response 6 6 6 5
High school 10 12 9 14
College/vocational school 21 17 24 20
Graduate school 9 11 7 7
Highest STEM level attained
Elementary school 1 0 0 0
Middle/high school 16 21 23 25
College classes 23 19 15 17
College degree 3 4 3 3
Graduate degree 3 2 5 1
Chaperones with “special interest,
knowledge, or training” in science
13 13 11 18
Note. Data are frequencies. STEM =Science, Technology, Engineering and Math education.
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the covariate failed to produce greater effect sizes in the planned comparisons, so
demographic covariates are not reported in the results that follow.
Inquiry Behaviors
Our analyses indicated that although Hands Off was helpful, the Juicy Question
game was best at improving the inquiry skills of students and chaperones at a novel
exhibit. Table 3 shows the mean pre/post difference scores for the inquiry behav-
iors we coded in the video data, and Table 4 shows the results of the planned and
post hoc comparisons conducted on these scores. Planned comparisons revealed
mediated control condition. The effect sizes for inquiry, represented by Cohen’s d
statistic, ranged from 0.3 to 0.8. The effect of pedagogy was a little less consis-
tent: The Juicy Question condition outperformed Hands Off in five respects, but
Hands Off showed superior performance in one. The size of the pedagogy effect
ranged from 0.4 to 0.7. We found a significant effect of prior mediation (d=0.4)
on only 1 of 13 measures, suggesting that the Exhibit Tour had little effect on
groups’ inquiry behavior at a novel exhibit.
Both Games Improved Inquiry, but Juicy Question Performed Better
Both Inquiry Games improved students’ inquiry behaviors as compared to the
Exhibit Tour. Still, there were differences in the ways in which Juicy Question and
Hands Off affected field trip groups. We next describe the impact of the Inquiry
Games on each of the dependent variables measured.
Engagement. There were no group differences in the pre/post change in
holding time at the exhibits (see Figure 8).8We ex p e c ted to see an incr e a s e i n
holding time for groups in the two inquiry conditions, especially because we had
found an effect of inquiry in the previous study of family groups. Instead, field
trip groups apparently became better at inquiry (see the variables below) but did
not spend significantly more time doing it.
Skill 1: Proposing Actions. Groups in both inquiry conditions significantly
increased the duration and sophistication of their PA utterances compared with
groups in the Exhibit Tour condition (see Tables 3 and 4, where “sophistication” is
measured as PA2s as a percentage of PAs). Groups in the Juicy Question condition
also significantly increased the number of PAs they made compared to Hands Off
8All graphs show pretest and posttest scores to emphasize the pre/post design of the study.
However, our analyses compared groups based on their pre/post difference scores, thus accounting
for any apparent pretest disparities across condition.
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TA B L E 3
Pre/Post Dif feren ce S co res for I nq uiry B eh avior s Ca pt ured on Video
Difference Scores by Condition, M (SD)
Inquiry Behavior Measure Juicy Question Hands Off Exhibit Tour Pure Control
Engagement Time at exhibit (minutes) 1.8 (3.9) 0.41 (5.3) 0.09 (2.5) 0.17 (3.6)
Skill 1: PA Number of PAs 6.7 (23) 6.1 (22) 1.02 (14) 1.02 (13)
PAs per minute 0.18 (1.8) 0.56 (1.7) 0.09 (1.7) 0.11 (1.4)
Duration of PAs (minutes) 0.93 (1.2) 1.4 (1.2) 0.34 (0.71) 0.43 (0.73)
PA2s as a percentage of
6% (10%) 6% (15%) 1% (9%) 3% (8%)
Skill 2: IR Number of IRs 15 (23) 2.6 (27) 4.0 (16) 0.80 (25)
IRs per minute 0.96 (2.2) 0.4 (1.7) 0.59 (2.0) 0.23 (2.5)
Duration of IRs (minutes) 0.82 (1.02) 1.2 (1.4) 0.32 (0.95) 0.36 (1.07)
IR2s as a percentage of
13% (10%) 12% (16%) 4% (10%) 5% (10%)
Consecutive IRs as a
percentage of IRs
3% (13%) 5% (12%) 0% (12%) 0% (11%)
Consecutive IR string
0.74 (2.08) 0.67 (1.7) 0.17 (1.1) 0.11 (1.6)
Coherent Investigations Linked PA string length 2.1 (4.06) 0.78 (3.7) 0.52 (3.02) 0.00 (3.1)
Other Reads exhibit label 1.6 (1.7) 0.76 (1.5) 1.6 (1.9) 1.4 (1.9)
Note. Juicy Question =structured Inquiry Game; Hands Off =spontaneous Inquiry Game; Exhibit Tour =mediated control; Pure
Control =unmediated control; PA =Proposing Actions; PA2 =high-level Proposing Actions; IR =Interpreting Results; IR2 =high-level
Interpreting Results.
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TA B L E 4
Planned and Post Hoc Comparisons for Inquiry Behaviors Captured on Video
Planned Comparisons (ANOVA), F(1, 180)
(Cohen’s d)
Pos t H oc t Tes t s, t( 9 0),
Prior Mediation Inquiry Pedagogy
Inquiry Behavior Measure (ET >PC) (JQ +HO >ET) (JQ "=HO) JQ >ET HO >ET
Engagement Time at exhibit (minutes)
Skill 1: PA Number of PAs 11 (0.7)
PAs per minute 4.7 (0.5)
Duration of PAs (minutes) 21 (0.8) 4.6 (0.4) 2.9 5.0
PA2s as a percentage of PAs 7.3 (0.5) 2.7 2.0
Skill 2: IR Number of IRs 7.7 (0.6) 2.8
IRs per minute 3.6 (0.4)
Duration of IRs (minutes) 13 (0.7) 2.5 3.8
IR2s as a percentage of IRs 16 (0.7) 4.3 2.8
Consecutive IRs as a
percentage of IRs
2.9 (0.3)
Consecutive IR string length 3.1 (0.3)
Linked PA string length 2.2 (0.3)a3.4 (0.4)a2.2
Other Reads exhibit label 4.9 (0.5) 2.4
Note. ANOVAs for the effects of prior mediation and of inquiry used one-tailed tests; all other comparisons used two-tailed tests. Unless
otherwise noted, only effects significant at the .05 level are shown. Blank cells indicate no significant differences. ANOVA =analysis of variance;
ET =Exhibit Tour; PC =Pure Control; JQ =Juicy Question; HO =Hands Off; PA =Proposing Actions; PA2 =high-level Proposing Actions;
IR =Interpreting Results; IR2 =high-level Interpreting Results.
aStatistically marginal effect (p<.07).
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FIGURE 8 Mean time spent by groups at the pretest and posttest exhibits. There were no
significant differences in any of the planned comparisons. Error bars represent standard errors.
groups (see Figure 9 for the change in the number of PAs). However, the Hands
Off groups outperformed the Juicy Question groups on the duration of their PA
utterances. These results were different in the prior family study, in which the
only effect of the inquiry conditions was on duration of PAs, with Juicy Question,
not Hands Off, outperforming controls. As an example of a PA becoming more
sophisticated, consider that one group’s PA utterances at the pretest exhibit typi-
cally focused only on either the intended action or the desired effect but not both,
such as, “Let’s put them all in a circle” (intended action). At the posttest exhibit,
more of their PAs included both, such as, “I wonder if we just had one going and
see if it would like affect the whole thing” (intended action and desired effect).
Skill 2: Interpreting Results. Similar to the pattern with PAs, groups in both
inquiry conditions showed a significant increase, compared to the Exhibit Tour
groups, in the duration and sophistication of their IR utterances (see Tables 3 and
4, where “sophistication” is measured as IR2s as a percentage of IRs). For exam-
ple, many interpretations in the pretest were simple observations (IR1s), such as,
“It fell,” “It’s like moving around,” and “That’s shaking.” At the posttest exhibit,
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FIGURE 9 Mean number of instances of Proposing Actions made by groups in each
more of the interpretations involved explanatory reasoning (IR2s), such as, “The
heavier one goes farther” or “It’s the ones that are on the outside move farther
back and forth and then the ones in the middle don’t move as far.” Groups in
the Juicy Question condition made more IRs than groups in either the Hands
Off or Exhibit Tour conditions (see Figure 10 for the change in the number
of IRs). These findings are similar to those from the prior family study, in which
the Juicy Question condition significantly increased the number, duration, and
sophistication of families’ IRs. This variable also revealed the only effect of prior
mediation, in which the Exhibit Tour groups increased the number of IRs made
per minute more than the Pure Control groups.
Collaborative Explanations. Field trip groups in the inquiry conditions
outperformed those in the Exhibit Tour Control on the percentage of their inter-
pretations that were consecutive (percent Consecutive IRs) and on the maximum
number of Consecutive IRs made in a row (Consecutive IR string length). As an
example of consecutive interpretations, consider an exchange in a Juicy Question
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FIGURE 10 Mean number of instances of Interpreting Results made by groups in each
group between two girls who were trying to understand how the “force” of a
magnet is transferred down the length of the exhibit:
Girl 1: The ones that are over here, they move farther with it—
Girl 2: They move with it and then this one gets smaller and doesn’t move—
Girl 1: Because it’s not as near it, it doesn’t get that much, you know, force.
In this example, the students build on each other’s understanding of the exhibit.
Note that Girl 2 first agrees with Girl 1 (“They move with it”) and then extends
the explanation (“and then this one gets smaller and doesn’t move”). Girl 1 then
continues to build their understanding, starting her next utterance with “Because
Despite the significant effect of inquiry on Collaborative Explanations, the post
hoc analyses found no differences, showing that the difference surfaced only when
we combined the Juicy Question and Hands Off groups together; either condition
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on its own did not improve enough over Exhibit Tour to show a significant dif-
ference (see Figure 11) The pattern for Consecutive IRs was different for the
family groups, with Juicy Question families significantly outperforming Exhibit
Tour fa m i l i e s o n b oth Consecut i ve IRs as a perce n t a g e o f I R s a nd Consecuti ve IR
string length.
Coherent Investigations. The planned comparisons revealed marginal
effects of inquiry and pedagogy for groups conducting long strings of investi-
gations that were linked by a common theme (Linked PAs). The post hoc test9
clarified that groups in the Juicy Question condition, not those in Hands Off, out-
performed the Exhibit Tour groups (see Figure 12). Apparently, the performance
FIGURE 11 Mean percentage of Interpreting Results (IR) codes that were Consecutive IRs
made by groups in each condition.
9Although the planned comparison results were only marginal, we felt that post hoc tests were
justified because the family study had showed a significant difference on this variable.
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FIGURE 12 Mean number of Linked Proposing Actions (PAs) made by groups across
of Hands Off groups was washing out the effect from Juicy Question groups in
the planned comparisons.
For example, in the Juicy Question condition, one group composed of three
girls (all 10 years old), two boys (one 9 and one 10), and a male chaperone became
interested in the issue of whether it would be possible to “block” the effect of
the magnets in the exhibit. (The exhibit they were using, called “Making Waves,”
consisted of 23 pendulums hanging from a horizontal rod. Each pendulum bob had
a magnet on one side, so when one pendulum swung, the others started swinging
in a wave pattern.) The group tried six different experiments to investigate this
single topic.10
10Parts of this group’s transcript originally appeared in Gutwill and Allen (2010b).
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Boy 1: Let’s see what happens when you block out a magnet.
[Experiment 1: They try holding one pendulum up and out of the way
of the others and then move another pendulum to see if it can affect its
neighbor through the gap.]
Boy 1: Does it still work?
Girl 1: Yes, for this one.
Girl 2: Yes.
Boy 1: For the Juicy Question, I think that should be it. Like if we block out a
lot of magnets, what happens?
[Experiment 2: They pull out several magnets in an attempt to stop the
wave from traveling, but the wave continues.]
Girl 1: You have to cover both of the sides [of the pendulum bob] because the
magnet follows the metal and the metal follows the magnet.
Girl 2: Like how do we prevent them from moving? How could we prevent
them from? I mean like if you use these, how do we prevent them from
[They decide to brainstorm their Juicy Questions but quickly resume
speculating about how to block the effects of magnets.]
Girl 2: What would happen if the magnet wasn’t there? I mean like then it
wouldn’t move.
Girl 1: It wouldn’t move at all. Because then just the metal would be there.
Girl 3: But what if a tiny piece of string was connecting them? Would it still
Girl 1: Yes.
Boy 1: It matters on how much it weighs.
Chaperone: What you need to put, to stop the magnet, see the paper, you put the
paper [cards in between the pendulums] and it is still moving.
[Experiment 3: They try putting their Juicy Question reminder cards
between the magnets and find that the pendulums still move.]
Boy 1: The magnet. Oh wait, I just, I learned this somewhere. I think mag-
netism can go through paper.
Boy 2: Yeah.
[Experiment 4: They again try placing their cards between the magnets.]
Girl 2: So it still works, even with the paper.
Boy 1: Get all the papers—
Girl 1: —together.
Boy 1: Now we’ll move it.
[Experiment 5: They try moving a pendulum while holding the stack of
cards against its magnet.]
Boy 1: It’ll still connect [magnetically to the other pendulums] because you
have to cover the metal on both sides [of the pendulum].
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[Experiment 6: They try covering both sides of the pendulum with their
hands and the cards.]
Girl 2: OK, will it follow?
Boy 1: It follows.
Girl 3: It follows.
Boy 2: It still goes through.
This excerpt of their inquiry at the posttest exhibit shows several Linked PAs
as the group tries six experiments to investigate how to stop the pendulums
from affecting one another. Experiments like these are evidence of Coherent
Juicy Question Helps Students and Chaperones
A closer examination of the data reveals that the significant improvements by
groups in the Juicy Question condition were made by both students and chaper-
ones. In contrast, the improvements in the Hands Off condition were made only
by the students; Hands Off chaperones did not improve on any measures. Table 5
shows the mean difference scores for students and chaperones in the four condi-
tions, with post hoc tests comparing each inquiry condition to the mediated control
This result—that chaperones learned the skills of PA and IR in the Juicy
Question but not the Hands Off condition—probably reflects the asymmetrical
responsibilities of chaperones in the two inquiry conditions. Chaperones played
an important part in the Juicy Question game by facilitating and also contributing
to the various phases: brainstorming, choosing a question, and interpreting results
after an experiment. By contrast, chaperones in the Hands Off game acted mainly
as referees to ensure that students respected the rules and one another. This differ-
ence may simply indicate the team’s failure to create an adequate supportive role
for Hands Off chaperones, or it may reflect a deeper difference inherent in the ped-
agogy of the two games (insofar as Hands Off is intended to support unfacilitated
use of the skills).
Par ticipants’ Reflections on Their Experiences
Immediately after the posttest exhibit, we interviewed the chaperone and one
randomly selected student from each group. We also phoned both participants
Exit interview responses. In the exit interview, students and chaperones
in all conditions reported enjoying the experience. Chaperones and students were
asked to use a 5-point Likert scale to rate the experience along a set of dimensions.
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TA B L E 5
Pre/Post Dif feren ce S co res for S tu dents and Cha pe ro nes
Score by Condition, M (SD)
Pos t H oc Tes t , t(9 0 ),
(p <.05)
Inquiry Behavior Measure Juicy Question Hands Off Exhibit Tour Pure Control JQ >ET HO >ET
Students in group Number of PAs 3.8 (20) 6.0 (20) 0.35 (13) 1.4 (12)
PAs per minute 0.05 (1.8) 0.54 (1.5) 0.01 (1.7) 0.14 (1.2)
Duration of PAs (minutes) 0.84 (1.2) 1.4 (1.4) 0.29 (0.81) 0.38 (0.87) 2.6 4.7
PA2s as a percentage of PAs 0.05 (0.09) 0.07 (0.14) 0.01 (0.08) 0.02 (0.08) 2.1 2.5
Number of IRs 13 (20) 2.9 (25) 3.6 (14) 0.22 (23) 2.7
IRs per minute 0.8 (2.0) 0.48 (1.4) 0.51 (1.8) 0.16 (2.3)
Duration of IRs (minutes) 0.92 (1.0) 1.5 (1.6) 0.29 (0.99) 0.39 (1.1) 3.0 4.3
IR2s as a percentage of IRs 0.15 (0.11) 0.14 (0.16) 0.04 (0.1) 0.04 (0.11) 5.0 3.4
Chaperone in group Number of PAs 3.0 (5.0) 0.13 (4.5) 0.67 (4.3) 0.39 (2.3) 3.8
PAs per minute 0.23 (0.44) 0.03 (0.52) 0.1 (0.68) 0.03 (0.39) 2.7
Duration of PAs (minutes) 1.6 (2.1) 0.68 (2.2) 0.6 (1.9) 0.48 (2.3) 2.3
PA2s as a percentage of PAs 0.08 (0.25) 0.02 (0.23) 0.05 (0.27) 0.07 (0.23) 2.3
Number of IRs 2.3 (5.4) 0.28 (5.1) 0.41 (3.3) 0.59 (3.6) 2.0
IRs per minute 0.15 (0.57) 0.08 (0.58) 0.08 (0.51) 0.07 (0.63)
Duration of IRs (minutes) 1.5 (1.9) 0.63 (2.3) 0.7 (1.7) 0.43 (1.8) 2.0
IR2s as a percentage of IRs 0.09 (0.32) 0.04 (0.34) 0.02 (0.35) 0.08 (0.26)
Note. Student data were tallied and averaged on a “per group” rather than an individual student basis. The post hoc comparisons used two-
tailed ttests. Only comparisons with results significant at the .05 level are shown. JQ =Juicy Question; ET =Exhibit Tour; HO =Hands Off;
PA =Proposing Actions; PA2 =high-level Proposing Actions; IR =Interpreting Results; IR2 =high-level Interpreting Results.
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Although this was not a rigorously validated scale, we used it as simple check that
the Inquiry Games did not feel onerous to field trip groups or detract from the
pure exhibit experience, an important aspect of successful programs in free-choice
learning environments. Students responded similarly across all conditions (i.e., we
found no differences in any planned comparisons), reporting that they “had fun,
found the experience “interesting,” and felt that they had “learned something.
Chaperones also had a positive experience overall, but our planned comparisons
revealed a few statistically significant differences in their responses. In one result,
chaperones in the Exhibit Tour condition agreed more with the statement that they
had fun than chaperones in the two inquiry conditions. Another result showed that
chaperones in the Juicy Question condition felt it was more difficult to manage the
group than chaperones in the Hands Off condition. Perhaps both of these results
reflect the added responsibility chaperones felt as inquiry facilitators. Finally,
chaperones in the Exhibit Tour condition felt that they had “learned something”
more than those in the Pure Control, suggesting that they attributed value to the
tour given by our educator. Table 6 shows the mean response scores for chaperones
and students.
Benefits and drawbacks to the mediated conditions.We as k e d c h aper-
ones and students in the three mediated conditions to describe what they liked
most and least about either the game or the tour they experienced, and we coded
their responses using an emergent set of codes applied by two coders. (Participants
in the Pure Control condition were not asked this question.) Planned compar-
isons for the effects of inquiry and pedagogy were made using Fisher exact tests.
Tabl e 7 s h o ws that althoug h s t u d e n t s m ostly agree d w i t h c h a p e rones within e a c h
condition, the depictions from the groups as a whole varied across conditions.
Groups in the Juicy Question condition more often mentioned that the game
helped them think, focus, collaborate, and learn inquiry. The chaperones espe-
cially seemed to appreciate the intellectual value of the Juicy Question game. For
example, one chaperone said, “I liked that it made them think. They actually had
to look at the exhibit and try to solve something, trying to figure something out.
It was a good thinking exercise.” Students also valued this aspect of the game,
with one remarking, “I liked it because it made your brain be working more [sic],
testing more, and made you think how things are done, and I think it helps you get
more [out] of the objects.”
Hands Off groups felt that the game helped them learn inquiry and learn to
collaborate by taking turns. One chaperone described it this way:
I thought it was a really organized approach, and there’s more of a lesson there
than just “hands off.” It’s about really listening to other people and taking turns and
communicating about whatever people do. It’s a good way to practice being an adult.
what I thought.”
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TA B L E 6
Partic ipants’ Re spo nses About T heir Exper iences
Likert Scale Responses, M (SD)
Juicy Question Hands Off Exhibit Tour Pure Control
Response (Group Inquiry) (Individual Inquiry) (Control) (Control)
Had fun 4.3 (0.10) 4.2 (0.10) 4.5 (0.10) 4.4 (0.10)
Interesting 4.4 (0.10) 4.2 (0.10) 4.5 (0.10) 4.5 (0.10)
Too l o ng (R ) 3. 9 ( 0. 1 7 ) 3.8 ( 0 .17 ) 4.0 ( 0 .17 ) 4.1 ( 0 .17 )
Others interfered (R) 3.9 (0.20) 3.8 (0.20) 4.0 (0.20) 3.8 (0.20)
Learned something 4.1 (0.15) 4.0 (0.15) 4.2 (0.15) 4.1 (0.15)
Felt put on the spot (R) 3.8 (0.20) 4.0 (0.20) 3.8 (0.20) 3.9 (0.20)
Inquiry Game helped us 3.7 (1.20) 3.8 (1.10) aa
Had funI4.1 (0.10) 4.1 (0.10) 4.2 (0.10) 4.0 (0.10)
Interesting 4.5 (0.10) 4.3 (0.10) 4.6 (0.10) 4.4 (0.10)
Too l o ng (R ) 4. 0 ( 0. 1 0 ) 3.6 ( 0 .10 ) 4.0 ( 0 .10 ) 4.2 ( 0 .10 )
Hard to manage group (R)P3.8 (0.18) 4.4 (0.17) 4.2 (0.17) 4.2 (0.17)
Learned somethingM4.0 (0.13) 3.9 (0.13) 4.2 (0.13) 3.7 (0.13)
Wan t m ore p a rti c ipa t ion 3 . 6 (0. 1 9) 3. 5 ( 0 .1 8 ) 3. 5 ( 0.1 8 ) 3. 2 ( 0.1 8 )
Inquiry Game helped us 3.7 (1.3) 3.7 (1.3) aa
Note. (R) =item was reverse scored.
IEffect of inquiry, such that Exhibit Tour outperforms Juicy Question and Hands Off,
F(1, 179) =4.3, p<.05.
PEffect of pedagogy, such that Hands Off outperforms Juicy Question, F(1, 167) =7.4, p<.01.
MEffect of prior mediation, such that Exhibit Tour outperforms Pure Control, F(1, 179) =5.8,
aNot asked.
Finally, the Exhibit Tour participants most enjoyed learning about how the
exhibits were developed, hearing about the science content, spending time with
hearing about the development of the exhibits, saying,
I’m not a very scientific person, so the stories behind it and what we were supposed
to learn were really good for me. Also learning about the people making them, and
what was in their brains, I learned a lot from that. One other thing—I liked how she
let the kids play with it first, then told the scientific process, then play again, then a
story about the inventor.
Another chaperone expressed pleasure in learning science content: “The Bernoulli
effect was fascinating. I never knew that was how airplanes flew.” Fewer students
than chaperones expressed positive feelings about the stories and content in the
tour. Still, one student said, “I liked to learn about how the exhibits worked and
how they are made.” Another student focused on the science content:
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TA B L E 7
Student and Chaperone Responses to the Mediated Conditions in the Posttest Interview
Students Fisher p Chaperones Fisher p
Juicy Hands Exhibit Juicy Hands Exhibit
Response Question Off Tour Inquiry Pedagogy Question Off Tour Inquiry Pedagogy
Liked most
Helped us focus our
61% 15% 7% .01 .01 59% 17% 4% .01 .01
Helped us think 15% 15% 0% .01 59% 11% 0% .01 .01
Helped us collaborate 22% 39% 0% .01 17% 33% 0% .01
Helped us learn inquiry 20% 20% 2% .01 7% 22% 2% .05
Helped us take turns 9% 41% 0% .01 .01 4% 65% 0% .01 .01
Enjoyed exhibit story 0% 0% 28% .01 0% 0% 50% .01
Enjoyed science
0% 0% 24% .01 0% 2% 39% .01
Enjoyed good teacher 0% 0% 13% .01 0% 0% 20% .01
Enjoyed time using
2% 2% 13% .05 0% 0% 11% .01
No positive comments 7% 4% 20% .05 0% 2% 0%
Liked least
Hard to form or choose
33% 4% 0% .01 .01 41% 2% 0% .01 .01
Hard to stop for
someone else
2% 44% 4% .01 .01 17% 39% 2% .01 .05
Seemed silly or
2% 2% 0% 0% 0% 7% .05
No negative comments 39% 39% 80% .01 30% 24% 70% .01
Note. Response categories are not mutually exclusive; percentages do not sum to 100%. Only categories that contained at least 25% of respondents or showed a
significant effect of inquiry or pedagogy are reported. Boldface indicates the condition that outperformed the other conditions.
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I liked how, especially on the Bernoulli effect, how the fast moving air had different
pressure, and she had us feel the pressure over and under the ball, and I liked how
she demonstrated the torque thing at the next exhibit.
In terms of the negative, each condition seemed to spawn a unique problem
for field trip groups. In Juicy Question, more than one third of the groups felt it
was difficult to generate or choose a question to investigate. One chaperone said,
“They had a hard time picking a question. They wanted to just play, so it was hard
for me to actually get them to stop and think about a question.” For Hands Off
groups, more than a third mentioned the challenge of stopping for someone else,
presumably when the person had called out “Hands off.” One student complained,
“Sometimes if you’re having fun, and they call ‘Hands off,’ you have to stop.”
Finally, a small but significant number of chaperones in the Exhibit Tour condition
felt that the mediation was irrelevant. One said, “The point about the dates when
something was developed, like with Bernoulli, the kids probably don’t care.
Using the game in the future.We also aske d s t u d e n t s and chaperon e s i n t h e
two inquiry conditions whether they thought they would use the game at exhibits
in the museum, or indeed anywhere else in their lives. We found no differences
between the Juicy Question and Hands Off conditions, with more than 60% of
chaperones and more than 30% of students predicting that they would use it. This
result stands in contrast to the finding for family groups, in which fewer Hands Off
families (30%) predicted that they would use the game in the future. Some of the
Hands Off families felt the game was unnecessary, apparently because they felt
they already knew how to take turns well. Perhaps visitors on school field trips,
particularly chaperones, value a turn-taking strategy more highly.
Follow-up interview. To assess the groups’ longer term use of the inquiry
skills they learned, we called the chaperone and one student from each group
whether there was anything from the study that they had used subsequently.
Tabl e 8 s h o ws the respon s e s o f s t u d ents and chape r o n e s f r o m each conditi o n a n d
the results of Fisher exact tests for the effect of inquiry.
As expected, participants in the two Inquiry Games conditions more often
reported that they had applied the two taught skills (PA or IR) or processes (turn
taking) at new exhibits and even outside the museum. For example, a student in
the Hands Off condition spoke about using it in the museum:
Me and my friend were going to the light exhibit, the one where the light flashes,
and she noticed something and she said, “Hands off,” and I said, “What?” and she
noticed that there was a little light blinking at the bottom of the exhibit. And it was
true. And that’s how we learned about electricity.
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TA B L E 8
Student and Chaperone Responses in Follow-Up Interview
Students Chaperones
Juicy Hand s Exh ibi t Pure Juic y Hands Exhibi t Pure
Question Response Question Off Tour Control Fisher p Question Off Tour Control Fisher p
Used specific skills taught
(PA or IR)
26% 14% 0% —a.01 14% 13% 0% —a.05
Exhibit topic was relevant 2% 0% 23% a.01 0% 0% 21% a.01
Didn’t have time 23% 32% 13% a43% 50% 34% a
Used anything the teacher
said at other exhibits
in the museum after
leaving the study room
that day? Hard to implement 9% 16% 3% a21% 29% 14% a
I used the skills or process 19% 19% 0% —a.01 11% 17% 0% —a.05
Already do something
like this
7% 5% 0% a21% 17% 3% —a.05
Exhibit topics were
2% 3% 26% a.01 0% 0% 7% —a
I talked about the
2% 19% 10% a0% 8% 24% a.01
Used anything the teacher
said in your life after
you left the museum
that day?
Didn’t come up afterward 23% 22% 15% a43% 46% 24% a
Remembered something
about the exhibits?
Remembered pretest
91% 97% 82% 95% .05 82% 79% 76% 86%
Remembered second
100% 100% 97% 95% 89% 96% 97% 93%
Remembered third exhibit 77% 68% 79% 63% 50% 63% 86% 61% .01
Remembered posttest
77% 84% 71% 80% 82% 71% 72% 64%
Note. Response categories are not mutually exclusive; percentages do not sum to 100%. Only categories that contained at least 25% of respondents
or showed a significant effect of inquiry or pedagogy are reported. Fisher exact tests were used to assess the effect of inquiry (Juicy Question +Hands
Off >Exhibit Tour). There were no significant effects of pedagogy. PA =Proposing Actions; IR =Interpreting Results; a=Not asked. Boldface
indicates the condition that outperformed the other conditions.
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game in school:
We were doing a project for science. We took two cups and put a string through it
so it was connected. You know when you pull a string it’s straight? And when it’s
straight you can talk through the cup. After we tested it, we thought there is a certain
length you need to make it work, like if it’s too long it wouldn’t work. It went almost
the whole length of the school yard. First we played with [the cup and string], then
we thought of the question, like how long the string was, and it didn’t work. It has
to be a little shorter than the length of the school yard.
In contrast, students in the Exhibit Tour condition focused on connecting the sci-
ence content to something else in the museum or at school. For example, one
student made a connection between the magnets in the posttest exhibit and cur-
rent work in the classroom: “We are learning about positive and negative magnets
in school and talking about things that attract and repel.”
In short, the interview data suggested the following:
1. Students in all three mediated conditions enjoyed the experience they
received, but what they liked and disliked varied. Compared to controls,
field trip groups who played the Inquiry Games particularly appreciated the
way the game helped them to learn inquiry and collaborate and (for Juicy
Question) to focus their activity; at the same time, some groups (in Hands
Off) disliked having to wait for others to finish and (for Juicy Question)
negotiating to choose a question to investigate.
2. Three weeks after the experience, there were no differences across condi-
tion in the number of participants using what they had learned. However,
there were significant differences in the kinds of knowledge participants
reported using after the study. Most frequently, students and chaperones
in the inquiry conditions applied the skills, whereas Exhibit Tour students
(but not chaperones) applied the exhibit content.
3. There were two significant differences across conditions in participants’
overall memories of the experience as indicated by the number of exhibits
they described having used. Students in the two inquiry conditions remem-
bered the first exhibit better than the controls, and chaperones in the Exhibit
Tour c o n d i t i o n w ere better at r e m e m b e r i ng the third ex h i b i t used. Perhap s
the tour of the third exhibit in which the educator talked about balance and
counterweight was particularly memorable.
Science Content Correctness
Although we did not design the Inquiry Games to help students and chaperones
arrive at any particular scientific content, we endeavored to determine whether
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TA B L E 9
Codeable IR2s Made by Groups in the Posttest
Codeable IR2s
Condition Total Mean per Group
Juicy Question 399 8.7
Hands Off 224 4.9
Exhibit Tour 86 1.9
Pure Control 100 2.2
Note. IR2 =high-level Interpreting Results.
improving their inquiry process might plausibly lead to conceptual understanding
in whatever area of science they were exploring. To that end, we categorized all
sophisticated interpretations of results (IR2s) as scientifically correct, incorrect,
or uncodeable. We had hoped to analyze the pre/post differences in the percent-
age of correct IR2s made by groups in the four conditions. Unfortunately, groups
in all conditions made too few IR2s in the pretest (less than two on average) to
warrant categorization as correct or incorrect, so only posttest IR2s were coded.
Furthermore, groups in the two control conditions did not make enough IR2s, even
in the posttest, to justify any kind of comparison (see Table 9). Consequently, our
analysis examined only the IR2s made by groups in the Juicy Question and Hands
Off conditions.
Figure 13 shows that nearly all of the student groups in the inquiry condi-
tions who made high-level interpretations (IR2s) in the posttest were scientifically
correct in most of their assertions. In fact, almost half of the groups (41 of 86)
made canonically correct interpretations every time. Recall that groups in both
FIGURE 13 Number of groups in the two inquiry conditions making correct interpretations
(correct IR2s) as a percentage of their total interpretations (codeable IR2s). IR2 =high-level
Interpreting Results.
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inquiry conditions increased the number of IR2s significantly more than controls.
Toge t h e r, these re s u l t s s h ow that mo s t i n q u i r y g roups displ a y e d c o r r e ct higher
level interpretations after instruction.
In terms of the overall research questions addressed by this study, we found the
Learning inquiry is possible. Within a museum laboratory setting, it is
indeed possible to teach field trip students skills that deepen their group
inquiry, even when assessed at a totally novel interactive exhibit and with-
out museum staff present. In particular, the two skills of publicly proposing
actions and interpreting results can serve as effective metacognitive skills
that bracket and extend the more typical behaviors of exploration and
experimentation that students often engage in.
Structured activity is better than spontaneous. Semistructured activities
such as the Juicy Question game that allow groups to ask and answer their
own questions but do so in a clearly defined process seem particularly effec-
tive at increasing the use of the targeted skills as well as highly desirable
skills that were not explicitly taught (viz., investigatory coherence, level of
PAs and IR s , a n d v e r b a l collab o r a t i o n ).
Prior preparation is not needed. Both chaperones and students can extend
their inquiry by engaging in these activities. It is significant that such
activities can be successfully taught on site, without the need for prior class-
room preparation, and are perceived by both chaperones and students as
worthwhile and enjoyable.
Trans fer s ome times occu rs. There is evidence of occasional spontaneous
transfer by a minority of students to settings beyond the research study,
such as the rest of the museum visit and daily life beyond. In the case of the
Inquiry Games, such transfer focuses on the use of the two targeted skills
or collaborative processes such as turn taking.
Fam i l i es and fiel d t r i p gro u ps re s p ond sim i l a rly. In most respects, field trip
students learn and practice these inquiry skills similarly to intergenerational
family groups. Comparing the results from the field trip groups to the find-
ings in a previous study of families (Gutwill & Allen, 2010a), we observed
largely similar patterns in the inquiry behaviors and attitudes of the two
audiences. In an interaction analysis, we found no significant interaction
effects between audience and treatment with regard to the effects of inquiry
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and prior mediation on any of our measures.11 We di d fi n d i n t e ractions wit h
regard to the effect of pedagogy on 4 of our 13 inquiry measures, but there
was no clear pattern to the interactions.12 These few differences were far
outweighed by the similarities across the two audiences. In summary, the
Inquiry Games, especially Juicy Question, were successful at improving
participants’ inquiry behaviors in both the family and field trip groups.
Study Hypotheses
More specifically, our study of field trip groups revealed that both the Juicy
Question and Hands Off Inquiry Games improved inquiry behaviors at a novel
exhibit compared to a control condition. The games helped groups make (a)
longer, more sophisticated proposals for action and interpretations of results and
(b) more collaborative interpretations. Further analysis revealed that the Juicy
Question condition improved additional aspects of groups’ inquiry, such as mak-
ing more interpretations and conducting more Coherent Investigations. It seems
that the structured collaborative format was more effective than the spontaneous
individualistic one.
In interviews, participants reported that the Juicy Question condition helped
them focus and think, whereas the Hands Off condition helped them take turns.
Three weeks after the experience, a small but significant fraction of participants in
both inquiry conditions reported that they used the skills they had learned in other
situations outside the research lab.
Of the three hypotheses put forth at the beginning of the study, one was
supported and two were disconfirmed.
Hypothesis 1: Inquiry Games will improve inquiry behaviors. We f o und
that groups who learned the Inquiry Games outperformed those in the mediated
control condition on several measures of inquiry, thus confirming the hypothesis
that lay at the crux of the study. We found a similar result in our previous study
11To determine whether the Inquiry Games affected field trip and family groups differently, we
compared the inquiry behaviors from the two studies. Using a univariate analysis of variance, we
set up contrasts for the interactions between audience (family vs. field trip) and the original planned
comparisons (effect of prior mediation, inquiry, and pedagogy). Statistically significant interaction
effects indicated differential effects of the treatment conditions on the two audiences.
12We found interaction effects for the following four variables: number of PAs, duration of IRs,
Level 2 IRs as a percentage of IRs, and Consecutive IRs as a percentage of IRs.
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of the family groups, indicating that the Inquiry Games may be useful tools for
museums to use with different audiences.
It may be argued that this finding is unsurprising: We taught some inquiry skills
and learners could use them. However, we believe that there are several reasons
the result goes well beyond basic skill acquisition. First, the participants were
posttested using their skills in the context of a novel exhibit with different science
content, a more challenging task than a traditional repeat-measures test. In this
sense, the project can be seen as study of near transfer and supports our earlier
conjecture that skills may be more readily transferable than concepts or princi-
ples. Second, the same basic pattern of results was seen in two important aspects
of inquiry that were never taught at all, namely Collaborative Explanations and
Coherent Investigations. This suggests that the skills taught in the Inquiry Games
may have been gateways to other skills, perhaps because of an underlying mecha-
nism of social group coherence. More specifically, for group members who want
to support and listen to each other, the activity structures of the game scaffold them
in publicly stating their actions and interpretations. Consequently, group members
may fall naturally into collaborative activity, building on each other’s ideas so that
no member is left feeling isolated or foolish. If so, our result suggests that within-
group bonds may indirectly facilitate some inquiry processes (such as coherence
of investigations), just as they may undermine others (such as competitive argu-
mentation). Third, the increase in skill use was not substantially correlated with
any of the demographic variables of either students or chaperones, suggesting that
the Inquiry Games worked equally well across a range of participants. This prob-
ably reinforces our original claim that schools and museums are inherently quite
different activity systems and suggests that informal environments may support
low-performing students in particular.
Finally, it is interesting to consider this finding in relation to debates about
whether skills can be learned separately from content. We would argue that
the skills taught in the activity structure of the Inquiry Games were essentially
metacognitive skills, generic enough to be broadly applicable and yet leading
learners to engage with the specific interactions and science content inherent in
each exhibit design (e.g., pulling back different combinations of coupled pendu-
lums to discover the system’s tendency to lock into a single phase). We believe
the skills could serve as successful generic gateways because of the motivating
influences of contextual factors: (a) The physical context provided intriguing phe-
nomena worthy of deeper exploration, thus motivating learners to dig into their
specific characteristics; and (b) the social context allowed learners to investigate
in directions of their own choosing. At the same time, we acknowledge that the
degree to which students ultimately learned canonical science content remains an
open question—without an educator whose goals were to emphasize particular
concepts or principles, many groups discovered content that was not immediately
relevant to the school science curriculum.
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Hypothesis 2: Prior mediation will enhance the experience. Based on
previous research showing positive effects of mediation on visitors’ attitudes
(National Research Council, 2009), we expected that groups in the mediated
control condition (Exhibit Tour) would enjoy the experience more than those
in the unmediated control condition (Pure Control). Moreover, we predicted that
improved attitudes would lead to more engagement and thus better inquiry by the
time the group reached the posttest exhibit. Results indicated little, if any, effect of
prior mediation on participants’ attitudes or inquiry skills. Attitudinally speaking,
the only difference we found on any measure came in the form of more chaper-
ones in the Exhibit Tour condition than in the Pure Control feeling that they had
“learned something” (students were no different in the two conditions). In terms
of inquiry behaviors, only 1 of 13 assessments showed a difference: Exhibit Tour
groups increased the frequency of their interpretations more than Pure Control
groups. Based on these small differences, we conclude that our hypothesis for
prior mediation was disconfirmed. Of course, it is important to acknowledge
the limited scope of this finding: It is entirely possible that prior mediation in
possible that the presence of a mediator during the posttest would enhance inquiry-
based learning. Neither of these was tested in the current study. Viewed in a more
positive light, the results indicate that the Exhibit Tour was an effective control
for the two inquiry conditions because it successfully offered mediation without
overly stimulating groups or teaching them inquiry skills.
Hypothesis 3: Pedagogy will affect inquiry. We pr e d i c ted that the co l l a b -
orative nature of Juicy Question might make for deeper inquiry, whereas the focus
of Hands Off on turn taking might make it easier for students to work together.
Our results indicate that Juicy Question was more effective than Hands Off at
improving a broad range of inquiry behaviors, including the number and fre-
quency of proposed actions, the number of interpretations, and the coherence of
investigations. Meanwhile, Hands Off was better on only one measure: duration
of proposed actions. We found a similar pattern of superiority for Juicy Question
in our study of family groups. We conclude that the Juicy Question game is a more
effective educational intervention for a wider variety of science museum visitors.
Understanding Juicy Question’s Success
We wer e n o t s u r p r i sed that the two i n q u i r y c onditions o u t p e r f ormed contro l s ,
given our extended iterative design process and the use of accepted learning prin-
ciples from both school and field trip settings. However, to gain a qualitative sense
of why Juicy Question outperformed Hands Off in terms of making proposals of
action, interpreting results, and linking multiple investigations, we reviewed video
and interview data from a total sample of 24 high-improving and low-improving
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groups in both conditions. Although this review was not rigorous, it revealed four
aspects of Juicy Question’s activity structure (missing in the Hands Off game)
that seemed to have contributed to students and chaperones’ improved inquiry
Everyone must participate. The Juicy Question game asked all students to
try generating fruitful questions and interpreting results; in Hands Off, shy stu-
dents could decline to call “Hands off!” and thereby avoid practicing the skills.
Although our intention in creating the Hands Off game was to encourage involve-
ment, students in larger groups would find it easy to retreat into silence. Our
video review found several instances of outgoing students maintaining control
of the exhibit by repeatedly calling “Hands off” to suggest a new course of action.
In interviews, some students in the Hands Off condition complained about this,
with one remarking, “Some people, they didn’t get to say ‘Hands off’ because
some people were pretty much taking all the spotlight.” By allowing extroverted
children to dominate the activity, the Hands Off game may have inadvertently
excluded introverted students, leading to a smaller improvement in inquiry behav-
iors overall. In Juicy Question, every student was encouraged to participate in the
brainstorm and discovery phases, which may have strengthened the skills of the
group as a whole. Of course, students’ motivations for participating are likely to
be complex and were not assessed in depth in this study; it may be that some
of the quieter students would have been more verbal had they believed their par-
ticipation would be factored into their school grades. Also, quieter students may
nevertheless have learned a great deal from their experience; our study was lim-
ited in that the assessments focused on externalized discourse and gestures and did
not address the kinds of learning-by-watching that have been shown to be effec-
tive in other settings (Rogoff, Paradise, Mejia Arauz, Correa-Chavez, & Angelillo,
Group members collaborate to choose a question. During the brain-
storming phase of Juicy Question, students must work together to choose one
question to investigate. This was sometimes difficult for them, as mentioned in
the interview by 33% of the students and 41% of the chaperones. Video anal-
ysis suggested that some groups made this easier by brainstorming questions
only until an idea piqued the group’s interest, then investigating it immediately
rather than completing the brainstorm process. Whether groups used the stan-
dard brainstorm procedure or the abridged version, the process probably yielded
several positive outcomes. First, filtering out lower quality questions in favor of
“juicier” ones probably led to more interesting experiments worthy of deeper dis-
cussion and interpretation. In contrast, Hands Off allowed each student to pursue a
stated question no matter how trivial or simplistic it might have been. One student
complained of this problem in the interview, saying, “Sometimes people called
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[“Hands off”] for pointless reasons.” Second, agreeing on the question to pursue
could enhance Juicy Question group members’ interest and investment in their
experiments, leading to more discussion, new questions, and more coherent sets
of investigations. Hands Off may unintentionally encourage abrupt shifts in the
topics driving investigations as one student after another announces an unrelated
idea and begins investigating it. As one interviewee noted, “Some kids don’t like
you to call ‘Hands off’ because it distracts them from their work.” Finally, the
collaborative nature of the Juicy Question format may have produced greater feel-
ings of camaraderie, as reflected in videos in which group members used terms
connoting group effort, like “We’re almost there” and “We’ve answered the ques-
tion! We’re good!” and “Look, we got it!” The emotional comfort that comes
from amity may encourage greater participation in group experimentation and
Juicy Question includes an explicit interpretation phase. The final stage
of the Juicy Question game asks group members to pause and reflect on the dis-
coveries they made during their investigation. This encourages all participants to
practice the metacognitive skill of interpretation. In the Hands Off game, call-
ing “Hands off” to state a discovery is optional. In fact, the “question” phase of
Juicy Question almost demands an “answer” phase, whereas the “plan” activity
for Hands Off can be viewed as independent of the “discovery” activity—plans
do not necessarily lead to discoveries. This may explain why the Juicy Question
groups increased the number of times they interpreted results so much more than
the Hands Off groups. Furthermore, our video review found that the interpreta-
tion phase of Juicy Question often sparked new, related questions, thus producing
longer sets of linked experiments.
Chaperones make an important contribution. The overall success of
Juicy Question was due in part to chaperones improving their own inquiry
behaviors compared to chaperones in the Exhibit Tour Control condition. (In
contrast, chaperones in the Hands Off condition performed no better than those
in the Exhibit Tour condition.) By placing chaperones in the role of facilitator,
the Juicy Question game somehow engaged them more deeply in the inquiry
To learn more about the nature of chaperone facilitation in the Juicy Question
condition, we turned to our educator ratings, a set of dichotomous ratings our edu-
cators made to describe the chaperone’s performance during the treatment phase
of the experiment. For example, our educators rated chaperones as “skilled” or
“unskilled” facilitators, as “engaged” or “not engaged” in the spirit of the game,
as sticking to the structure of the game “exactly” or “not exactly.” These ratings
were neither validated nor checked for reliability; their original intended use was
primarily to help the team identify interesting cases along a spectrum of chaperone
performance. Recognizing this limitation, we nevertheless explored these data
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following the main quantitative analysis phase to see whether they might shed
additional light on the role of the chaperones in scaffolding group processes.
Specifically, we used the ratings as independent variables to see whether chap-
erone performance during treatment was related to group inquiry performance in
the posttest. Of the educator ratings, the facilitator rating showed a significant
and surprising pattern of differences on four of our dependent measures: Juicy
Question groups with unskilled chaperone facilitators made more IRs, IRs per
minute, Linked PAs, and Consecutive IRs than Juicy Question groups with skilled
chaperone facilitators. Moreover, the unskilled chaperones themselves made sig-
nificantly more IRs per minute than the skilled chaperones, as did their respective
students. (Linked PA and Consecutive IR scores were assigned to entire groups,
so we could not disaggregate chaperone from student performance on those mea-
sures.) These findings suggest that in groups with unskilled chaperones, both
the chaperones and the students were contributing more than in groups with
skilled chaperone facilitators. Again, the educator ratings were not validated, but
the recurrence of the same pattern of results across four of our key dependent
measures prompted us to report it here.
If accurate, these results suggest that when chaperones are less comfortable or
adept at facilitating the Juicy Question game, they tend to slip into the students’
role, co-investigating exhibit phenomena along with the students. Meanwhile, stu-
dents in such groups tend to contribute more, perhaps because their chaperones
are effectively modeling the inquiry skills with adult-level expertise, or perhaps
because they step into a perceived leadership vacuum, or perhaps because they
benefited earlier from witnessing their chaperone receive more extensive coach-
ing from the staff educator who perceived them as unskilled. Whatever the reason,
we see it as a value of the Juicy Question game that it seems to work particularly
well in advancing the inquiry of groups with unskilled chaperones.
If true, these results also have implications for the theoretical framework under-
lying our experiment. We designed our inquiry conditions with the assumption of
nested zones of proximal development, in which museum educators help parent
chaperones learn to facilitate, and chaperones in turn help students engage in
game-based inquiry. We assumed that for each level, the more experienced person
would create a zone of proximal development by taking on the most challeng-
ing tasks and structuring them for others. We expected that when the educator
departed in the posttest, chaperones would create a zone of proximal development
for students by facilitating the game. Some facilitators (the skilled ones) probably
did establish such a zone, but the largest gains apparently came from groups in
which chaperones acted more like students than facilitators. This implies that a
flat rather than nested zone of proximal development treatment structure may be
more effective; that is, perhaps Juicy Question would be even more successful if
we did not ask chaperones to facilitate the game. Further research is needed to
shed light on these questions.
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Limitations of the Study
As with the study of family groups previously mentioned, the field trip study has
several limitations that may narrow the applicability of the results. First, even
though the groups were left alone to use the last (posttest) exhibit, before leav-
ing the educator did explicitly ask those in the two inquiry conditions to play the
Inquiry Game that they had learned. One could argue that asking these visitors
to play Juicy Question or Hands Off at the posttest exhibit somewhat undermines
our ability to make strict comparisons among the conditions and requires that we
report our results with the caveat “when prompted to play the games.” We chose
to do this because the alternative—asking groups to use a final exhibit “as they
normally would” after we had given them game cards and spent 20 min teaching
them an exhibit game—seemed disingenuous; also, it would have led to a con-
founding, because we would not have known whether the groups freely chose to
play the game or succumbed to an obvious pressure to please the educator. By
cuing everyone to use it, we created a best case scenario for determining how well
the field trip groups could play the games at the posttest exhibit. More impor-
tant, even in ideal circumstances, simply telling someone to engage in a particular
learning process does not mean that they will have the motivation or ability to
comply. Barbara White, an experienced inquiry researcher and project advisor,
commented, “We teach inquiry to kids in schools for 13 weeks, and often they still
don’t do it in a new situation when we ask” (personal communication, February
14, 2005). Similarly, our experiences with visitors during the early development of
the Inquiry Games made it clear that giving a broad directive to play the game was
frequently ignored, especially if the visitor group did not find the game memorable
or enjoyable.
Second, we coached and assessed inquiry behaviors at only one type of sci-
ence museum exhibit, which we characterized as an interactive, open-ended,
multioption, and multiuser exhibit.13 The results of the study may be less applica-
ble to so-called discovery-based exhibits, which have fewer options to try (Hein,
1998; Humphrey & Gutwill, 2005) or to static display exhibits such as dioramas.
Finally, we conducted our study in a laboratory rather than on the museum’s
exhibit floor. The experience was authentic insofar as the field trip groups were
genuine museum visitors and the exhibits were in the exact form in which they
would normally be available on the museum floor. Still, our laboratory provided
a best case scenario in that field trip groups had the exhibits to themselves, could
spend as long as they wanted, could hear one another clearly, and endured few
13In a technical sense, the results could be deemed even more limited, applying only to our posttest
exhibit Making Waves. However, we suggest that improvement at the posttest exhibit in the Juicy
Question condition would have required successful application of that game at the two “treatment”
exhibits, Floating Objects and Unstable Table. Consequently, our finding that the Juicy Question game
facilitates field trip group inquiry arguably pertains to three distinct exhibits.
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distractions while using each exhibit. How well would the Juicy Question game
function on the buzzing museum floor, where students may not have complete con-
trol over the exhibit, and others may be waiting in line to use it? Further research
is needed to answer this question.
Future Implementation
To learn more about how the Juicy Question game fares in the exciting environ-
ment of a real science museum, we are currently adapting the game for use with
families and field trip groups on the museum floor and formatively evaluating
the results of our endeavors. Several issues have already emerged, unique to each
For field trip groups, implementation challenges include the following:
Large student groups. In our lab study, we limited group size to seven stu-
dents. On real field trips to the Exploratorium, groups are supposed to have
no more than 10 students per chaperone, but sometimes the ratio is higher.
Students in large groups have more difficulty hearing one another, getting
an opportunity to manipulate the exhibit, and having the time to participate
in the conversation.
Learning the game takes time. Even with the games limited to two skills, the
time required to teach Juicy Question at an exhibit sometimes exceeds the
attention span of students and their chaperone, especially for large groups.
Increased distractions. Unlike the laboratory, the museum floor is full of
interesting exhibits, people, and sounds, all of which can distract students
from learning the Juicy Question game.
Chaperone priorities. On the museum floor, chaperones often feel the need
to focus their energies on keeping track of students rather than playing
the game. Perhaps the game will be more effective if students are asked
to facilitate the game for themselves.
To dea l w i t h t h e s e c hallenges , w e a r e e x ploring va r i o u s techniques , s u c h a s
teaching students and chaperones about the game off the floor and then applying
it to a real exhibit as a second step.14
We grat e f u l l y a c knowl e d g e t h e c r e ativ e a n d a n a lytical contr i b u tions of all mem -
bers of the GIVE (Group Inquiry by Visitors at Exhibits) team, particularly
14Updates on the project’s progress can be found at
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Ryan Ames, Mark Boccuzzi, Liana Crouch, Sarah Elovich, Beth Gardner, Malia
Jackson, Adam Klinger, Nerissa Kuebrich, Suzy Loper, Anne Richardson, Lisa
Sindorf, and Erin Wilson. We also wish to thank Linda Deacon, John Frederiksen,
Kathleen McLean, Michael Ranney, Barbara White, and the advisors to the GIVE
project. Finally, we thank the editor and three anonymous reviewers for their
insightful comments on a previous version of this article. We are grateful for
the generous financial support of the National Science Foundation. This mate-
rial is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under
Grant 0411826 and work supported by the Foundation done while Sue Allen was
working at the Foundation. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommen-
dations expressed in this material are our own and do not necessarily reflect the
views of the National Science Foundation.
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... Στα μουσεία, δίνεται η δυνατότητα μελέτης της επιστημονικής γνώσης, η σύνδεση της επιστήμης με την κοινωνία και ο προσδιορισμός του βαθμού συσχέτισης ανάμεσα στην επιστήμη και την καθημερινή ζωή. Όλα αυτά πραγματοποιούνται μέσα από την ενασχόληση με αυθεντικά αντικείμενα, την επαφή με τον πολιτισμό, την καλλιέργεια δεξιοτήτων επιστημονικής μεθόδου και τη συνεργασία σε ομαδικά έργα με σκοπό, πάνω από όλα, την καλλιέργεια θετικών στάσεων απέναντι στην επιστήμη (Roth, 2011;Gutwill & Allen, 2012) και στο μουσείο (Plakitsi, 2013). ...
... Ο εμψυχωτής, παρατηρώντας προσεκτικά πώς οι ομάδες ανταποκρίνονται στις επιμέρους δράσεις, πρέπει να γνωρίζει πότε να παρεμβαίνει (scaffolding) υποστηρίζοντας, βοηθώντας, προκαλώντας, παρακινώντας την ομάδα και πότε να υποχωρεί (fading), αφήνοντας την ομάδα να εξελιχθεί αυτόνομα και να επιτύχει τον στόχο της δράσης. Ο εμψυχωτής μπορεί να υποστηρίξει τις ομάδες όταν το χρειάζονται με ερωτήσεις, κίνητρα, χρησιμοποιώντας σχετικές με το πρόγραμμα ατάκες, ενθαρρύνοντάς τες (Gutwill et al., 2012;Κορνελάκη, 2018). ...
Full-text available
SciEPIΜGI συγκεράζει τις αρχές της μη τυπικής εκπαίδευσης, του πεδίου των Φυσικών Επιστημών καθώς και της κοινωνικο-πολιτισμικής θεωρίας της Δραστηριότητας. Προς αυτή την κατεύθυνση, σχεδιάστηκε και υλοποιήθηκε εργασία πεδίου στο Αρχαιολογικό Μουσείο Ιωαννίνων, με τεταρτοετείς φοιτητές του Τμήματος Νηπιαγωγών, στο πλαίσιο του μαθήματος «Το Μουσείο ως χώρος εκπαίδευσης στις Φυσικές Επιστήμες και την Τεχνολογία». Oι φοιτητές μελέτησαν σε ομάδες τα εκθέματα των συλλογών του μουσείου και αναζήτησαν γέφυρες αυτών με θεματικές από το Αναλυτικό Πρόγραμμα Σπουδών για τις Φυσικές Επιστήμες στο Νηπιαγωγείο. Στην παρούσα εργασία παρουσιάζονται τα αποτελέσματα από την ανάλυση των εργασιών των φοιτητών και προγενέστερη έρευνα της ερευνήτριας. Λέξεις κλειδιά: Φυσικές Επιστήμες, μη τυπική εκπαίδευση, κοινωνικο-πολιτισμική θεωρία Δραστηριότητας, πλαίσιο σχεδιασμού Abstract: The paper supports the feasibility of tracing connections of topics of Science Education in museums of general interest. Bridges which connect culture with Science Education are indicated and detected by studying the exhibits' testimonies. In this sense, the educational programs designed for museums of general interest carry added value and necessitate the cooperation between formal and non-formal education. SciEPIMGI design framework combines the principles of non-formal education, the field of Science Education as well as the cultural-historical Activity Theory. Within this frame, a fieldwork was organized and conducted in the Archaeological Museum of Ioannina, with university students on their fourth study year who attended the course "The role of the Museum in Science and Technology Education". In the fieldwork, students studied in groups the exhibits in museum's collections and explored the bridges between them and the topics from the preschool curriculum on Science Education. In this paper the results from the analysis of the students' assignments are presented as well as the results of a previous research related to the topic.
... Noticeably, informal or unstructured interactions between facilitators and visitors in museums and science centres encompass a largely unexplored research territory. The majority of studies conducted on visitorfacilitator interactions so far have focused on structured interactions, such as school group tours [Gutwill and Allen, 2012; see Hauan and Kolstø (2014) for a review] or specifically designed and structured programs and exhibit experiences. ...
... Investigations of structured interactions have been carried out extensively at the Exploratorium in San Francisco, where staff facilitate the visitor experience with exhibits or programs designed specifically to encourage inquiry behaviour (Allen and Gutwill, 2009;Gutwill and Allen, 2010;Gutwill and Allen, 2012). More recently, Pattison and Dierking conducted a series of studies exploring unstructured, but controlled, visitor-facilitator interactions. ...
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We studied how interactions with interpretative science centre staff impacts the learning behaviours and engagement levels of visitors who engage with exhibits at Science North (Sudbury, Canada). This study uses the Visitor-Based Learning Framework. The tool consists of seven discrete learning-associated behaviours that visitors show when engaging with exhibits, which are grouped into three categories of engagement: Initiation, Transition, and Breakthrough. These categories reflect increasing levels of engagement and depth of the learning experience. We studied forty-seven Science North exhibits, and 4,835 visitors to analyse the impact of unstructured facilitation in a naturalistic setting. We compared visitor Engagement Levels with and without a facilitator present. We determined that the presence of staff has a statistically significant impact on the percentage of visitors that engage in Breakthrough behaviours. When a facilitator is present, more visitors reach the Breakthrough Level of Engagement ( p < 0.001). In the second phase of the study, we explored what facilitators do and say through thematic analysis to uncover common patterns of facilitator actions and comments. Our findings showed that facilitators employed strategies and methods that can be grouped in four categories or Facilitation Dimensions: Comfort, Information, Reflection, and Exhibit Use. These dimensions encompass different strategies and techniques of facilitation, that are used in a variety of situations and sequences. Our study goes beyond anecdotal evidence to show that staff-visitor interactions have a positive impact on visitor engagement with exhibits and therefore, potentially on visitor learning from exhibits. Our findings can be used to inform not only training programs but also managerial decisions and considerations around resource allocation. We suggest that facilitators are a fundamental asset for institutions that prioritize visitor engagement, one that should be given top priority when considering areas for investing.
... During the process of design, implementation, analysis and evaluation of the program, a framework for the design of educational programs emerged (SciEPIMGI -Science Education Programs In Museums of General Interest). This framework has adopted the proposed principles of inquiry-based programs [12], such as the use of students' prior knowledge, experiences, and ideas as part of their socio-cultural background [13,14], the pedagogical approach of modelling, scaffolding and fading, the practice of inquiry skills and processes, the support of collaboration. All the above were situated in the cultural-historical activity theory (CHAT) frame, which, besides the principles taken into account for the design, moreover, offered the levels of analysis and evaluation of the educational program focusing on learning as primarily a collective process. ...
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The paper reflects on a 4-month training seminar offered to in-service teachers of primary education in Epirus region which introduced a coalition between science and museum education. It follows an expansive learning cycle and aims to a meaningful improvement of teachers' practices on science education. The present paper presents the level of participants' satisfaction with the seminar, the design framework SciEPIMGI (Science Education Program In Museums of General Interest), and the Moodle platform used. It also studies under a cultural-historical perspective, the constraints participants encountered during the seminar and finally, the transferability of the design framework in museums beyond the Archaeological museum of Ioannina, where it was first tested. The above are studied through empirical data collected from a questionnaire with close-and open-ended questions and the qualitative analysis of the participants' final projects. The results overall show high levels of satisfaction and constraints which are connected with contradictions and conflicts of motives. Participants' final projects reveal that teachers have designed science education programs for different kinds of museums such as folklore, art, historical, archaeological and a thematic museum of Epirus region.
... The research also suggests that travel has additional positive effects on children's intellectual or academic learning (e.g., Byrnes, 2001;Newman, 1996). This can happen through active exploration by children, of museums especially (e.g., Chang, 2006;2012;Gutwill and Allen, 2012;Haden, 2010;Piscitelli, 2001). ...
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For Christmas, the father in this case study gave each of his two sons a voucher for a one-week trip that the boys would plan for individually and then take separately with the father during the upcoming summer vacation. The father records the initial thought processes and the plans in journal form. Together they reread journals from earlier trips and reflect on what happened in their course. What follows are accounts of the father hiking with the older son in southwest Ireland and then subsequent excursions in Berlin with his younger son. The two journeys planned by the children are then examined and discussed using qualitative textual analysis. Lastly, the findings are linked to current theoretical knowledge.
... The research also suggests that travel has additional positive effects on children's intellectual or academic learning (e.g., Byrnes 2001;New-man 1996). This can happen through active exploration by children, of museums especially (e.g., Chang 2006Chang , 2012Gutwill and Allen, 2012;Haden 2010;Piscitelli 2001). These processes also have interactive dimensions involving the parents into which flow parental thinking and knowledge (Thomas and Anderson, 2013). ...
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What can we learn from a teacher's journal about working with challenging youth? Why does the Training Room Program in German schools impede the development of an empowering learning culture? What experiences transpire during a train trip to the sea with an unruly crew of school boys? Or: what happens when children plan a trip on their own? Anyone who has accumulated experiences in teaching faces creative choices when putting that legacy to paper. The author chose to use this selection of studies to illustrate formative and inspirational moments from his years as a dedicated teacher and father.
... Technically speaking, their work did not contain the use of computer technologies. Second, Gutwill and Allen (2012) manipulated experimental conditions by adjusting different pedagogical methods while we generated conditions based on different app modes. In a nutshell, our current study uniquely speaks to collaborative question-crafting and has the potential to fill the gap of addressing the aforementioned dearth of research providing computer support that encourages museum visitor groups to ask questions collaboratively. ...
Mobile devices and apps have become a standard for the museum experience. Many studies have begun to explore the impact mobile apps may have on user experience and informal learning. However, there has been relatively little research on how visitor groups interact collaboratively while using these devices in computer-supported collaborative learning (CSCL) environments. In this paper, we explore the impact of a mobile question-asking app on museum visitor group interactions using the Interactive-Constructive-Active–Passive (ICAP) framework, a hierarchical taxonomy that differentiates modes of cognitive engagement. In a post-hoc analysis of survey findings from a study conducted at two large museums in the American southwest, we found that our app encouraged sharing of information among group members. In addition, users of a gamified version of the app were significantly more likely to report engaging in a group discussion during question-asking than groups using a non-game version of the app. We also found that group collaboration levels depended on the group-designated primary user of the app. Whenever a child or the group collaboratively asked the most questions, group discussion frequency was significantly higher. The study’s findings support mobile question-asking apps’ viability as a means to better understanding of museum visitor groups’ interactions with exhibit content and provide evidence that game-based mobile apps, designed to foster question-asking by visitors, may bolster collaborative group interactions and informal learning.
In this study, “There is Mathematics in My Nature!" which was conducted within the scope of TUBITAK 4004 Nature Education and Science Schools’ the project has been evaluated. In the project, it is aimed to carry out nature-themed activities, workshops and laboratory studies, to include knowledge and skills to be gained through new and different learning approaches, to raise awareness about mathematics in students by making them realize the relationship between different disciplines and mathematics, and to contribute to the development of students' individual creativity. In addition, it is among our aims to provide a positive change in the perspectives towards science, to provide students with a critical-artistic-inquiring perspective, to contribute to the bodily-kinesthetic development of the students, and to discover the mathematics hidden in nature and other branches of science. In addition, in this project it is aimed that the participants are actively involved in individual and group work, that their sense of curiosity is activated and that they learn by doing and experiencing. The target group of the project is 7th and 8th grade students studying in public schools in the 2020-2021 academic year. In the project, "Mathematics Attitude Scale", "Mathematics Anxiety Scale", "Affiliation to Nature Scale" and "Activity Studies Evaluation Scale" were applied to the students. In addition, in the light of the findings, it has been seen that students' learning mathematical elements intertwined with nature, by doing and experiencing, contributes to their internalization of the knowledge of mathematics and making mathematics a part of their lives. In the light of the project findings, it was observed that the participants' anxiety towards mathematics decreased, their commitment to nature and their attitudes towards mathematics changed positively. In line with the results obtained from the research, it is thought that the integration of the existing education system into the activities that the students will perform in nature by doing and living will make positive contributions to education.
Educational games are fun teaching tools prepared in line with the aims of the lessons and facilitate the understanding of the subjects. Due to these features, they can be used in science centers to both discover exhibits and provide understanding of concepts. In this study, it was aimed to determine the opinions about the educational games prepared for the science center. For this purpose, the games prepared for Kocaeli Science Center were played and the opinions of the pre-service teachers who played the games were determined. The study is a phenomenological research in which the opinions of the participants are investigated. The study group consists of 30 pre-service science teachers. The participants played the games prepared in relation to science lesson subjects in groups. After playing the games, their opinions on playing in the science center, the effect of playing in the science center on learning, discovering the science center and exhibits were asked based on their experiences. The data were collected through a form with open-ended questions and observations. The collected data were analyzed using the qualitative content analysis. The pre-service teachers emphasized that they understood the subjects in the exhibits better. They stated that the science center visits supported by educational games will positively affect learning. Based on the results of the research, it can be said that educational games should be among the educational tools that can be used to discover the science center and to understand the exhibits.
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This paper presents a case study: a collaboration between an artist, a senior lecturer in engineering, and two faculty members from teaching and learning. It showcases how we, as a consortium are 1) using origami in university STEM teaching as a way of enhancing and promoting arts-based STEAM learning within the contexts of creativity, play, exploration, and learning from failure and 2) charting these processes within a broader interdisciplinary contribution to teaching and learning. As a result of our collaboration, we suggest a new shorthand of 'makerlearning' which captures both the physical maker elements underscored with a carefully considered pedagogy. The process of applied making provides a space where the "gap between disciplines...can be bridged" (Troxler, 2017, p.13). We are striving for a reframing of invention and innovation within and beyond educational context and contend that "individuals are not creative, ideas are creative" (Clapp, 2016, p.3). Although our case study focuses om the discipline of engineering, we argue that makerlearning and artistic approaches to understanding complex concepts can be applied across disciplines and extend beyond the classroom into community and industry settings.
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Resumo This article examines how people learn by actively observing and “listening-in” on ongoing activities as they participate in shared endeavors. Keen observationand listening-in are especially valued and used in some cultural communities in which children are part of mature community activities. This intent participation also occurs in some settings (such as early language learning in the family) in communities that routinely segregate children from the full range of adult activities. However, in the past century some industrial societies have relied on a specialized form of instruction that seems to accompany segregation of children from adult settings, in which adults “transmit” information to children. We contrast these two traditions of organizing learning in terms of their participation structure, the roles of more-and less-experienced people, distinctions in motivation and purpose, sources of learning (observation in ongoing activity versus lessons), forms of communication, and the role of assessment.
The notion of scaffolding learners to help them succeed in solving problems other- wise too difficult for them is an important idea that has extended into the design of scaffolded software tools for learners. However, although there is a growing body of work on scaffolded tools, scaffold design, and the impact of scaffolding, the field has not yet converged on a common theoretical framework that defines rationales and approaches to guide the design of scaffolded tools. In this article, we present a scaffold- ing design framework addressing scaffolded software tools for science inquiry. Developed through iterative cycles of inductive and theory-based analysis, the framework synthesizes the work of prior design efforts, theoretical arguments, and empirical work in a set of guidelines that are organized around science inquiry practices and the challenges learners face in those practices. The framework can provide a basis for developing a theory of pedagogical support and a mechanism to describe successful scaffolding approaches. It can also guide design, not in a prescriptive manner but by providing designers with heuristics and examples of possible ways to address the challenges learners face.