• Question: Is there any evidence related to learning in science museums? Any good advice how to make the visit more effective for learners? Is there something that could be done to promote the learning from the museum point of view?

    Asked by azaban to Yvonne, Paula, Naomi, Geneviève, Dylan, Carole on 27 Jun 2018.
    • Photo: Dylan Wiliam

      Dylan Wiliam answered on 27 Jun 2018:

      I would start with the following 2015 report from the US National Academies of Science’s Committee on Successful Out-of-School STEM Learning:


    • Photo: Geneviève Allaire-Duquette

      Geneviève Allaire-Duquette answered on 27 Jun 2018:

      Dear Azaban,

      Thanks for your question on best practices for visiting science museums. I hope there are great science centres in your area.

      Litterature reviews identified a few strategies including:
      – plan of action,
      – structured engagement (such as tours or worksheets),
      – unstructured engagement (such as teacher facilitation),
      – event documentation,
      – supervision strategies.

      From a more practical perspective, it is recommended to:

      Before the visit:
      – visit the museum before bringing a class
      – set learning objectives
      – conduct a preparatory activity in class

      During the visit:
      – Plan a short exploration or orientation session upon arrival
      – Give student open questions (quiz, questionnaires and “treasure hunts” have shown to be less effective, probably because of the next recommendation)
      – Let the students make choices
      – Let the students take a break to prevent “museum exhaustion”

      After the visit:
      – As the students to summarize what they have learned and to share it with the class (photographs, drawings, stories, roundtable, data analysis, etc.)


      Recommended papers:

      Griffin, J. (2004). Research on students and museums: Looking more closely at the students in school groups. Science Education, 88(S1), S59-S70. https://doi.org/10.1002/sce.20018

      Kisiel, J. (2006). An examination of field trip strategies and their implementation within a natural history museum. Science Education, 90(3), 434-452. https://doi.org/10.1002/sce.20117