ERIC Number: ED370971
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1994-Apr
Reference Count: N/A
The Relationship between Changes in Perceptual Focus and Understanding.
This paper examines how temporal and spatial observation variables can drastically alter a visitor's comprehension of the phenomena depicted by a museum exhibit. The focus is on a tornado exhibit at the Exploratorium, a museum of science and human perception in San Francisco (California). Videotaped recordings of 10 children interacting with the simulated tornado, field observations made at the museum, and an interview with a museum employee provide data. The 10 cases show how visitors can develop misperceptions about the exhibits and the phenomena they demonstrate. Some misconceptions were based on the faulty scripts of interactions with the exhibits. Some of the scripts were observed to be derived from observing other visitors and appropriating their ideas for interactions. Observations made by visitors are influenced by numerous factors, such as vantage point and time during which the observations are made. The visitors' backgrounds in science and their general understanding of the phenomena are also important influences on perceptual focus. Eleven figures present case data. Appendix 1 classifies the visitors, Appendix 2 presents the theoretical background, and Appendix 3 contains nine sample screens from the exhibit. (Contains 23 references.) (SLD)
Publication Type: Reports - Research; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers: California (San Francisco); Misinterpretation; Tornadoes
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association (New Orleans, LA, April 4-8, 1994).