Family Learning in Object-Based Museums: The Role of Joint Attention

TitleFamily Learning in Object-Based Museums: The Role of Joint Attention
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2015
AuthorsPovis, KTison, Crowley, KJ
JournalVisitor Studies
Pagination168 - 182
Date Published2015/07/03/
ISBN Number1064-5578
KeywordsNo full text
AbstractFrom an early age, joint attention serves as a basis for parent–child communication. This study explored how increased joint attention (2 people knowingly focused on the same object) might lead to increased learning as 54 families explored dioramas in a natural history museum. Using a 2 × 2 factorial design, the authors tested 2 interventions intended to increase parent–child (5–8 years of age) joint attention to objects in the dioramas. In one intervention, families used flashlights to explore darkened dioramas, thereby restricting the visual field, and in the other intervention, families were provided with signage prompts intended to focus attention on particular diorama features. Results showed that families who explored dioramas with flashlights were significantly more likely to establish joint attention compared to controls. Furthermore, once families established joint attention around an object, they were more likely to engage in learning talk about that object, suggesting that relatively simple manipulations of joint attention might be an effective means of supporting family learning in object-based learning environments such as natural history museums.