Mystery Shopping: An Innovative Method for Observing Interactions With Scientists During Public Science Events

Research
TitleMystery Shopping: An Innovative Method for Observing Interactions With Scientists During Public Science Events
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2015
AuthorsPeterman, K, Young, D
JournalVisitor Studies
Volume18
Issue1
Pagination83 - 102
Date Published2015/01/02/
ISBN Number1064-5578
AbstractThis article documents the development and use of a mystery shopper protocol for observing scientists’ interactions with the public within the context of science festival expo booths. A team of field researchers was trained to act as members of the general public and approach scientists participating in a science festival. After visiting each booth, the mystery shoppers documented their experiences; 192 booths were observed and data were compared with those from 186 intercept surveys collected from members of the public attending the expo. Descriptive statistics document the range of booth logistics and scientist interactions captured, and inferential statistics explore the relation between protocol items and event ratings. The results indicate that mystery shopping is an effective way to document scientists’ interactions with the public, providing a unique perspective that serves as a measure of quality control when compared with best practices. The utility and implications of mystery shopper data are discussed in relation to evaluation of and research on public science events in particular and informal learning institutions overall.
URLhttp://dx.doi.org/10.1080/10645578.2015.1016369