Technological novelty and open-endedness: Two characteristics of interactive exhibits that contribute to the holding of visitor attention in a science museum

Authors

  • Cody Sandifer

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    1. Department of Physics, Astronomy, and Geosciences, Towson University, 8000 York Road, Towson, Maryland 21252-0001
    • Department of Physics, Astronomy, and Geosciences, Towson University, 8000 York Road, Towson, Maryland 21252-0001.
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Abstract

This study was undertaken to isolate characteristics of interactive exhibits that are particularly effective in attracting and holding the attention of visitors in a science museum. Forty-seven visitors were tracked through two adjacent exhibitions, comprising a total of 61 interactive exhibits. Four exhibit characteristics were identified and examined: technological novelty, user-centeredness, sensory stimulation, and open-endedness. Regression analyses show that two of these characteristics, technological novelty and open-endedness, help to account for the variance in average visitor holding time; these characteristics have positive correlations with the amount of time spent by visitors at exhibits. Nonsignificant results are explained in terms of mitigating environmental and exhibit-related factors. In addition, topics for future study are suggested. © 2003 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Res Sci Teach 40: 121–137, 2003

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