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Let's Give 'Em Something To Talk About: How Participation in a Shared Museum Experience Can Seed Family Learning Conversations At Home

Sanford, Camellia Wynona (2009) Let's Give 'Em Something To Talk About: How Participation in a Shared Museum Experience Can Seed Family Learning Conversations At Home. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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Museums provide supportive spaces for families to practice talking together. Although studies have shown that families engage in rich learning conversations within museum settings, it is not yet known whether the rehearsal of such talk carries beyond the museum walls and into the home. This study was designed to test one way that a museum visit might facilitate learning conversations at home: By centering talk around everyday objects. The study took place within a travelling exhibition called How People Make Things and in participants' homes. Twenty-nine parent-child pairs were assessed jointly and individually before a visit to the exhibition, immediately after the visit, and two weeks later at home for evidence of changes in four areas of learning talk: content mentions, process explanations, prior references, and open-ended questions. Additional data was also collected during the families' visit to the exhibition, through parent self-reports, and during a scavenger hunt activity at home. Findings show that families' content talk immediately after the visit and two weeks later at home was significantly greater than before the visit. Families' also gave more process explanations two weeks after the visit than they had before or immediately after the museum visit. In addition, families used significantly more references to prior experiences immediately after the visit than they had before the visit. The number of open-ended questions families asked immediately after the visit decreased significantly compared to before the visit. A series of regressions looking for possible predictors of family content talk revealed that what families talked about during the museum experience significantly predicted how families talked about content immediately after the visit. Furthermore, what families talked about immediately after the visit, as well as their everyday conversations around objects in-between visits, led to an increase in the amount of learning conversations they had together at home. An examination of changes in children's content understanding suggests that families' talk about content after their visit to the exhibition, as well as how they discussed content before their visit, resulted in a delayed payoff in which children demonstrated an increased content understanding two weeks later at home.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Sanford, Camellia Wynonacas77@pitt.eduCAS77
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairCrowley, Kevincrowleyk@pitt.eduCROWLEYK
Committee MemberSchunn, Christianschunn@pitt.eduSCHUNN
Committee MemberForman, Elliceellice@pitt.eduELLICE
Committee MemberBickel, Williambickel@pitt.eduBICKEL
Date: 16 December 2009
Date Type: Completion
Defense Date: 19 November 2009
Approval Date: 16 December 2009
Submission Date: 7 December 2009
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: School of Education > Instruction and Learning
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: Conversation; Everyday Objects; Family; Home; Informal Learning; Museum; Rehearsal; Transfer
Other ID:, etd-12072009-152924
Date Deposited: 10 Nov 2011 20:08
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2016 13:53


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