The Role of Mediators in Science Museums: An Analysis of Conversations and Interactions of Brazilian Families in Free and Mediated Visits to an Interactive Exhibition on Biodiversity

The social interactions that take place in science museums, whether between family members or with mediators, are recognized as essential to visitors’ experience. However, there is still little empirical research in the Brazilian context on how families interact and converse on visits to science museums – and even less on the role of the mediator in the museum experience. In this exploratory study, the authors analyze the social interactions of families in an interactive exhibition on biodiversity: “Forest of the Senses”, at the Museum Science and Life (Brazil), characterized by having one of the lowest human well-being indicators in the country. In particular, the authors analyzed the ways in which the presence of human mediation influenced the experience of family visits to the exhibit. Video and audio of ten low-income families' visits were recorded and analyzed using a protocol based on social interactions that take place in museums. Results show that human mediation did not influence the amount or types of visitor-exhibit interactions or the amount of time spent at the exhibit, but increased the amount of conversation time among the groups, including the amount of time discussing science content, thus providing insights into mediator training and qualification.

Authors: Luisa Massarani, Rosicler Neves, Graziele Scalfi, Antero Vinícius Portela Firmino Pinto, Carla Almeida, Luis Amorim, Marina Ramalho, Luiz Bento, Monica Santos Dahmouche, Renata Fontanetto, Shawn Rowe

Massarani, Luisa; et al
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Source (Journal Article): 
International Journal of Research in Education and Science, 8 (2), 328-361.
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35 pages