The Museum Education Research Group is interested in conducting research in several areas related to learning in and with museums.

Museum-Based Online Learning

We conduct research examining how museums engage audiences through online learning. We are particularly interested in interactive online learning with audiences of all ages. This includes school based programs, public programs, teacher professional development, and many others. This does not include static virtual tours, online games, or other online educational content that does not include synchronous or asynchronous interaction with an educator. You can learn more about this work in this open access literature review, this open access article, and in my blog post for AAM.

Science Museum Educators’ Levels of Self-Efficacy

We are in the process of validating a survey to assess science museum educators’ levels of self-efficacy related to various parts of their job. Based on an earlier study, this survey asks museum educators to rate how skillful they believe they are at completing various tasks such as teaching multigenerational groups, assessing prior knowledge, or teaching online. Along with our colleague in the statistics department, we are currently conducting a factor analysis to better understand how these various skills are related and in what areas educators feel the need for more professional learning. 

Framing Climate Change Communication

Along with a colleague from Chapman University, we are examining strategic message framing surrounding wetland restoration and climate change. We are conducting research on effective ways to communicate climate change impacts on wetlands for audiences in the Florida Everglades and the California Delta. We are also testing new messaging around extreme weather events and climate change. To better understand the long term impacts of the climate change message framing work done by the National Network for Ocean and Climate Change Interpretation, we are also conducting a retrospective study of the inaugural class of museum educators trained in strategic message framing. You can read more about this work in our open access publication on framing climate change in the Gulf of Maine

EcoCivic Engagement

Funded by the Thoreau Foundation, the Thompson Earth Systems Institute and collaborators are providing undergraduate students the opportunity to gain experience in environmental research, outreach, and civic engagement. Fellows attended seminars featuring environmental experts, received mentoring, networked with peers, and took part in a Fellow-designed, multi-day field experience focused on environmental challenges across Florida. Fellows worked with a community organization on a project that contributes to research, education, or civic engagement on a salient environmental issue. Learn more about our project here.

Broadening Participation through Broader Impacts

We are also examining research related to how scientists engage in broader impacts. This work aims to support the Scientist in Every Florida School program by allowing us to better understand how scientist-teacher partnerships are created and sustained. Additionally, our work looks at how to ensure scientists are using best practices for engaging with diverse audiences. You can learn more about this work in our article in the Journal of STEM Outreach. We are also conducting research related to scientist engagement with the public in the museum. The results of this study are forthcoming.

Past Research

Previous work has examined best practices for supporting the science interests and career aspirations of historically excluded students through museum-based family science programs. 

See our publications page for more articles related to these projects.