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Abstract

A study of docent-led guided school tours at a museum of natural history was investigated. Researchers engaged in naturalistic inquiry to describe how natural history content was conveyed to students and what students gained from this model of touring. They also investigated how the content and pedagogy within the guided tour complemented recommendations from formal science standards documents and informal learning literature. About 30 visiting school groups in Grades 2–8 were observed. Teachers (n = 30) and select students (n = 85) were interviewed. Researchers found that tours were organized in a didactic way that conflicted with science education reform documents and research related to learning within informal contexts. Students' responses to interview questions indicated high satisfaction with the tours but low levels of science learning. © 2003 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Res Sci Teach 40: 200–218, 2003