Educational value of different types of exhibits in an interactive science and technology center
Afonso, A. S. and Gilbert, J. K. (2007) Educational value of different types of exhibits in an interactive science and technology center. Science Education, 91 (6). pp. 967-987. ISSN 0036-8326
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To link to this article DOI: 10.1002/sce.20220
This study analyzes the short-term consequences of visitors' use of different types of exhibits (i.e., "exemplars of phenomena" and "analogy based") together with the factors affecting visitors' understanding of and their evaluation of the use of such exhibits. One hundred and twenty five visitors (either alone or in groups) were observed during their interaction and interviewed immediately afterwards. Findings suggest that the type of exhibit constrains the nature of the understanding achieved. The use of analogical reasoning may lead to an intended causal explanation of an exhibit that is an exemplar of a phenomenon, but visitors often express misconceptions as a consequence of using this type of exhibit. Analogy-based exhibits are often not used as intended by the designer. This may be because visitors do not access the source domain intended; are unaware of the use of analogy per se (in particular, when the exhibit is of the subtype "only showing similarities between relationships"); only acquire fragmentary knowledge about the target; or fail to use analogical reasoning of which they were capable. Furthermore, exhibits related to everyday world situations are recognized to have an immediate educative value for visitors. Suggestions for enhancing the educative value of exhibits are proposed.