Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Let's give 'em something to talk about: How participation in a shared museum experience can seed family learning conversations at home
by Sanford, Camellia Wynona, Ph.D., University of Pittsburgh, 2009, 168; 3400493
Abstract (Summary)

Museums provide supportive spaces for families to practice talking together. Although studies have shown that families engage in rich learning conversations within museum settings, it is not yet known whether the rehearsal of such talk carries beyond the museum walls and into the home. This study was designed to test one way that a museum visit might facilitate learning conversations at home: By centering talk around everyday objects. The study took place within a travelling exhibition called How People Make Things and in participants’ homes. Twenty-nine parent-child pairs were assessed jointly and individually before a visit to the exhibition, immediately after the visit, and two weeks later at home for evidence of changes in four areas of learning talk: content mentions, process explanations, prior references, and open-ended questions. Additional data was also collected during the families’ visit to the exhibition, through parent self-reports, and during a scavenger hunt activity at home. Findings show that families’ content talk immediately after the visit and two weeks later at home was significantly greater than before the visit. Families’ also gave more process explanations two weeks after the visit than they had before or immediately after the museum visit. In addition, families used significantly more references to prior experiences immediately after the visit than they had before the visit. The number of open-ended questions families asked immediately after the visit decreased significantly compared to before the visit. A series of regressions looking for possible predictors of family content talk revealed that what families talked about during the museum experience significantly predicted how families talked about content immediately after the visit. Furthermore, what families talked about immediately after the visit, as well as their everyday conversations around objects in-between visits, led to an increase in the amount of learning conversations they had together at home. An examination of changes in children’s content understanding suggests that families’ talk about content after their visit to the exhibition, as well as how they discussed content before their visit, resulted in a delayed payoff in which children demonstrated an increased content understanding two weeks later at home.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Crowley, Kevin
School: University of Pittsburgh
School Location: United States -- Pennsylvania
Source: DAI-A 71/03, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Educational sociology, Communication, Individual & family studies, Museum studies
Keywords: Family learning conversations, Home, Informal learning, Museum
Publication Number: 3400493
ISBN: 978-1-109-67243-5
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