Thai visitors’ expectations and experiences of explainer interaction within a science museum context

Supara Kamolpattana, Ganigar Chen, Pichai Sonchaeng, Clare Wilkinson, Neil Willey, Karen Bultitude

In Western literature, there is evidence that museum explainers offer significant potential for enhancing visitors’ learning through influencing their knowledge, content, action, behaviour and attitudes. However, little research has focused on the role of explainers in other cultural contexts. This study explored interactions between visitors and museum explainers within the setting of Thailand. Two questionnaires were distributed to 600 visitors and 41 museum explainers. The results demonstrated both potential similarities and differences with Western contexts. Explainers appeared to prefer didactic approaches, focussing on factual knowledge rather than encouraging deep learning. Two-way communication, however, appeared to be enhanced by the use of a ‘pseudo-sibling relationship’ by explainers. Traditional Thai social reserve was reduced through such approaches, with visitors taking on active learning roles. These findings have implications for training museum explainers in non-Western cultures, as well as museum communication practice more generally.


Narrative as a learning tool in science centers: potentials, possibilities and merits

Mai Murmann, Lucy Avraamidou (JCOM)

In this theoretical paper we explore the use of narrative as a learning tool in informal science settings. Specifically, the purpose of this paper is to explore how narrative can be applied to exhibits in the context of science centers to scaffold visitors science learning. In exploring this idea, we analyze the theoretical, structural and epistemological properties of narrative. In the pages that follow, we first discuss the advantages and possibilities for learning that science centers offer alongside challenges and limitations. Next, we discuss the role of narrative in science, as a tool for supporting science learning. We then continue with an analysis of the structural and epistemological properties of narrative and discuss how those can serve to establish narrative as a learning tool.


Assessing scientific citizenship through science centre visitor studies

Andrea Bandelli (JCOM)

As science museums and centres (SMC) broaden their practices to include the development of scientific citizenship, evaluation needs also to take account of this dimension of their practices. It requires complex methods to understand better the impacts of public participation in activities mediated by SMC, including their impacts on the governance of the SMC themselves.