The learning environment of natural history museums: Multiple ways to capture students� views

Bamberger, Yael; Tal, Tali
July 2009
Learning Environments Research;2009, Vol. 12 Issue 2, p115
Academic Journal
This article describes an initial attempt to find out students� perceptions of class visits to natural history museums, with regard to the museum�s role as a place for intellectual and social experience. The study followed up approximately 500 Grades 6�8 students who visited four museums of different sizes, locations and foci. Data sources included the Museum Constructivist Learning Environment Survey (M-CLES), which was adapted from Constructivist Learning Environment Survey, an open-ended question and semi-structured interviews with 50 students. The three instruments highlighted some differences in students� perceptions of the visit. Opportunities for concrete experiences and cognitive and affective engagement were not covered by the M-CLES, while the nature of science was not discussed by the students in their responses to the open-ended item and the interviews. This suggests that each instrument has its advantages and limitations and, therefore, the three means for data collection enabled a complementary view. Based on our findings, we suggest further development of museum learning environment surveys to capture students� perceptions.


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