Tsybulskaya, D., & Camhi, J. (2009). Accessing and incorporating visitors' entrance narratives in guided museum tours. Curator: The Museum Journal, 51(1), 81–100.
ISE educators who provide guided tours at museums and similar institutions will be interested in this paper as it addresses how informal educators can assess a visitor's "entrance narrative," or collection of experiences, memories, and knowledge related to the subject matter of the museum, and respond to it in ways that enhance and increase visitors engagement with the subject matter during the tour. Visitors that experienced the entrance narrative mapping technique described here believed it helped them more deeply engage in the subject matter of the tour.
Michalchik, V., & Gallagher, L. (2010). Naturalizing assessment. Curator, 53(2), 209–219. doi:10.1111/j.2151-6952.2010.00020.x
Existing (and essentially school-based) approaches to assessment involve recording the extent to which learners gain particular knowledge or skills. In informal settings, outcomes depend on the participant’s own agenda. Michalchik and Gallagher propose an approach to assessment—of both individuals and programmes—that focuses on learner behaviour instead of on pre-determined objectives.
Pekarik, A. J. (2010). From knowing to not knowing: moving beyond “outcomes.” Curator: The Museum Journal, 53(1) 105–115.
In this paper, Pekarik challenges the conventional approaches that institutions use to monitor success. He argues that outcome-based evaluations simply record impact in a set of predetermined categories and do not document the many and varied effects that participants may experience. This paper may be of interest to informal educators seeking new ways of thinking about program evaluation.
Miller, J. D. (2010) Adult science learning in the internet era. Curator: The Museum Journal, 53(2), 191–208.
Focusing on where people find information about issues relevant to civic society, the author of this paper concludes that, in contrast to the Internet and related information technologies, informal science institutions are less impactful on civic science literacy. The implications of his findings are that in the Internet era an informal science institution's in-house presentation of intriguing phenomena may not be sufficient to supporting an engaged scientifically literate citizenry.
Krantz, A., Korn, R., & Menninger, M. (2009). Rethinking museum visitors: Using K-means cluster analysis to explore a museum's audiences. Curator: The Museum Journal, 52(4), 363–374.
This paper presents a quantitative strategy (K-means cluster analysis) for exploring museum-motivated ideas that can be helpful in resource allocation, marketing, event planning, and designing exhibits. Cluster analysis provides a potentially useful way of knowing and understanding visitors, especially when the rating statements used in the questionnaire and in the analysis represent the museum's intentions.
Allen, S., & Gutwill, J. P. (2010). Creating a program to deepen family inquiry at interactive science exhibits. Curator: The Museum Journal, 52(3), 289–306.
Many informal science institutions design exhibits to encourage inquiry and experimentation. But the authors of this paper suggest that often museums have found that visitors lack the expertise or confidence to engage in coherent inquiry. They report here on their efforts to equip visitors with key inquiry skills through providing families and groups with focused trainings on how to use inquiry-based exhibits.
Rhoads, L. (2009). Museums, meaning making and memories: The need for museum programs for people with dementia and their caregivers. Curator: The Museum Journal, 52(3), 229–240.
In this paper, Rhoads argues that exposure to museum resources and exhibitions can greatly benefit people with dementia—that is, those suffering the loss or decline of memory and other cognitive abilities. She calls for museums to think beyond their current offerings and develop tailored programs for people with dementia and their caregivers.
Smith, L. (2009). Identifying behaviors to target during zoo visits. Curator: The Museum Journal, 52(1), 101–115.
This paper will be of value to ISE professionals interested in designing communication strategies to influence visitor behaviour. The author draws on persuasive communication theory to discuss the design and delivery of messages to target behaviours. This study reflects on the difficulties encountered during a process of identifying and prioritising behaviours to target in zoo contexts.
Fraser, J. (2009). The anticipated utility of zoos for developing moral concern in children. Curator: The Museum Journal, 52(4), 349–361.
Parents committed to bringing their children to zoos ascribed the value of the visits to promoting altruism to prepare their children for future social encounters; transferring their own environmental values; encouraging self-esteem; and inculcating cultural norms. This article suggests that ISE educators can attract/engage parents through appealing to moral development for children.