NotesFAQContact Us
Search Tips
ERIC Number: ED513091
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2009
Pages: 271
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 0
ISBN: ISBN-978-1-1092-9129-2
Institutionalization in Action: Interactive Science Center Interactivity and Materiality from the Family Perspective
Crain, Rhiannon Lorraine
ProQuest LLC, Ph.D. Dissertation, University of California, Santa Cruz
Interactive science centers are unique players in the science education community, but their positioning as both authorities on science and providers of "free choice" learning presents learning researchers with a problematic contradiction rooted in the complexities of trying to be both "scientific" and "education" organizations. Using insight from cultural historical activity and new institutionalism of organizations theories this study found that the activity of Exploratorium visitors recreated much of this "core" contradiction. Thirty-five families visiting the Exploratorium were invited to "draw the Exploratorium" and to explain their drawings. Analyses of these drawings and video of the families' discussions revealed that families responded to the activity by drawing and talking about the Exploratorium in very similar ways. Their ideas about the Exploratorium show that the contradictory position of the organization shapes the context for learning through its purposeful lack of regulative structure, and consequential reliance on cultural-cognitive and normative systems as resources for information about how to conduct activity in the museum. The result is learning activity that depends on both a complex relationship between visitor and material, and on the visitor's self-regulation through school-like definitions of science learning. This necessarily reframes the contradiction embodied by interactive science centers and suggests that interactive science centers need to proceed carefully as they move forward as organizations for learning. In addition, the study extends work on interactive exhibits showing that families value physical interaction as a source of knowledge generation. This finding directly conflicts with critiques of interactive science centers as providers of "gratuitous interactivity." [The dissertation citations contained here are published with the permission of ProQuest LLC. Further reproduction is prohibited without permission. Copies of dissertations may be obtained by Telephone (800) 1-800-521-0600. Web page:]
ProQuest LLC. 789 East Eisenhower Parkway, P.O. Box 1346, Ann Arbor, MI 48106. Tel: 800-521-0600; Web site:
Publication Type: Dissertations/Theses - Doctoral Dissertations
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A