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ERIC Number: EJ775727
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2007-Oct
Pages: 24
Abstractor: Author
Reference Count: 27
ISSN: ISSN-0950-0693
Use of Questions in Exhibit Labels to Generate Explanatory Conversation among Science Museum Visitors
Hohenstein, Jill; Tran, Lynn Uyen
International Journal of Science Education, v29 n12 p1557-1580 Oct 2007
Research suggests that conversations at museums contribute to, as well as serve as evidence for, learning. Many museums use labels to provide visitors with information as well as stimulate conversation about exhibit topics. However, most studies on exhibit labels do not centre on conversations. This investigation uses a Vygotskian framework to examine the ways questions in exhibit labels can stimulate conversations in a science museum. We examined the questions and explanations that appeared in conversation occurring under three label conditions (Current Label, Added question "Why is this here?", and Simplified Text plus Question) at three exhibits in a science museum. Each exhibit (a model of a Victorian workshop, a sectioned 1959 Austin Mini Cooper, and a bowl that survived the atomic bomb in Hiroshima, Japan) was videotaped for approximately 6 hr in each condition. Findings based on 464 conversations at these exhibits indicated that our guiding question affected visitors' conversations; however, adding the question had different effects at different exhibits. For example, at the Mini-Cooper exhibit, people asked more open-ended questions with the question added than in the current label condition. At this exhibit there were also more open-ended questions used in conjunction with explanatory responses when the question was present. In contrast, the guiding question at the Hiroshima bowl exhibit had no effect. These results imply that it is important to consider the nature of the exhibit when designing labels that will optimally facilitate learning conversations. (Contains 4 tables, 2 figures and 1 note.)
Routledge. Available from: Taylor & Francis, Ltd. 325 Chestnut Street Suite 800, Philadelphia, PA 19106. Tel: 800-354-1420; Fax: 215-625-2940; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: United Kingdom