First Faculty Mentor

Dr. Laura Wilson

Department

Geosciences

Award

2nd Non-Empirical Graduate

Description

Specifically addressing and refuting common misconceptions about evolution is still a relatively new approach in education; this style of learning remains largely untested in adults outside of a classroom setting. As informal places of learning, natural history museums are the most likely environment for the general public to learn about evolutionary theory and test their misconceptions with scientific observation. Few natural history museums have evaluated their exhibits’ ability to explain evolutionary processes in a way that encourages scientific thought and addresses common misconceptions about evolutionary theory. A two-part (pre and post) survey was constructed to evaluate the educational effectiveness of the “Rattlers” and “Bringing Fossils to Life” exhibits at the Sternberg Museum of Natural History (FHSM). Both exhibits use live animals to contextualize evolutionary processes such as: (1) predator-prey relationships; (2) convergence; (3) life on land; and (4) extinction. In future research, this survey will be utilized in the first formal evaluation of educational effectiveness in FHSM exhibits by comparing the conceptual models utilized by visitors before and after seeing the exhibits. Results will provide feedback for the museum and further evidence for the usefulness of surveys in evaluating effectiveness of museum exhibits in adult education of evolutionary theory.

Comments

This poster tied for second place in its category.

Included in

Geology Commons

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Designing a Measure of Effectiveness for Exhibits Communicating Evolutionary Theory at the Sternberg Museum of Natural History

Specifically addressing and refuting common misconceptions about evolution is still a relatively new approach in education; this style of learning remains largely untested in adults outside of a classroom setting. As informal places of learning, natural history museums are the most likely environment for the general public to learn about evolutionary theory and test their misconceptions with scientific observation. Few natural history museums have evaluated their exhibits’ ability to explain evolutionary processes in a way that encourages scientific thought and addresses common misconceptions about evolutionary theory. A two-part (pre and post) survey was constructed to evaluate the educational effectiveness of the “Rattlers” and “Bringing Fossils to Life” exhibits at the Sternberg Museum of Natural History (FHSM). Both exhibits use live animals to contextualize evolutionary processes such as: (1) predator-prey relationships; (2) convergence; (3) life on land; and (4) extinction. In future research, this survey will be utilized in the first formal evaluation of educational effectiveness in FHSM exhibits by comparing the conceptual models utilized by visitors before and after seeing the exhibits. Results will provide feedback for the museum and further evidence for the usefulness of surveys in evaluating effectiveness of museum exhibits in adult education of evolutionary theory.