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Disorientating, fun or meaningful? Disadvantaged families' experiences of a science museum visit

Archer, L., Dawson, E., Seakins, A. and Wong, B. ORCID: (2016) Disorientating, fun or meaningful? Disadvantaged families' experiences of a science museum visit. Cultural Studies of Science Education, 11 (4). pp. 917-939. ISSN 1871-1510

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1007/s11422-015-9667-7


It is widely agreed that there is a need to increase and widen science partici- pation. Informal science learning environments (ISLEs), such as science museums, may provide valuable spaces within which to engage visitors—yet the visitor profile of science museums remains narrow. This paper seeks to understand the experiences of socially disadvantaged families within such spaces. Using a Bourdieusian analytic lens, we analyse qualitative data from a small study conducted with ten parents and ten children from an urban school who visited a large science museum. Data includes pre- and post-interviews, audio recordings and visit fieldnotes. We characterised families’ experiences as falling into three discourses, as ‘disorientating’, ‘fun’ or ‘meaningful’ visits. Analysis identifies how the families’ experiences, and the likelihood of deriving science learning from the visit, were shaped through interactions of habitus and capital. Implications for improving equity and inclusion within ISLEs are discussed.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Arts, Humanities and Social Science > Institute of Education > Improving Equity and Inclusion through Education
ID Code:70031


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