Informing the Development of Science Exhibitions Through Educational Research

Antti Laherto
Department of Physics , University of Helsinki , PO Box 64, FI-00014 , University of Helsinki , Finland
Published online: 28 Jun 2012

This paper calls for greater use of educational research in the development of science exhibitions. During the past few decades, museums and science centres throughout the world have placed increasing emphasis on their educational function. Although exhibitions are the primary means of promoting visitors’ learning, educational research is not often utilised when designing these learning environments. Rather, the development of exhibitions in museums and science centres tends to rely on the know-how of the staff. Reviewing and engaging in science education research would complement this expertise and support the educational role of science exhibitions. This theoretical paper therefore suggests such a research-based approach by adapting the model of educational reconstruction for the purpose of exhibition development following the idea of the model for the personal awareness of science and technology. The former model serves as a general framework to involve analytical and empirical research in the development of learning environments, while the latter model provides a specific view of visitors’ learning in interaction with exhibits. This study shows how these constructivist models can be interconnected in order to apply educational research in improving the long-term learning profit of exhibition visits. The idea is illustrated with an example concerning the research-based development of a nanoscience exhibition.

Keywords: Educational reconstruction; Exhibit design; Informal education; Learning environment; Personal awareness of science and technology



To cite this article: Antti Laherto (2013) Informing the Development of Science Exhibitions Through Educational Research, International Journal of Science Education, Part B: Communication and Public Engagement, 3:2, 121-143, DOI: 10.1080/21548455.2012.694490

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