Intrinsic Motivation in Science Museums: Learning from and Broadening the Participation of Visitors with Learning Disabilities
2020 to 2023

EDC is serving as the external evaluator for the Intrinsic Motivation in Science Museums project. This project, funded by NSF’s AISL program, is a collaboration between The University of Rochester, EdTogether, Museum of Science, Boston (MOS), and Rochester Museum and Science Center (RMSC). The overall goal of this project is to broaden the participation of youth with learning disabilities (LD) in informal science learning (ISL). The project will develop knowledge to support ISL practitioners to better facilitate the inclusion of youth with LD by (1) describing the engagement and motivation of adolescents (ages 10–17) with LD when experiencing varied ISL exhibits, (2) exploring, developing and investigating design strategies to improve the intrinsic motivation of youth with LD in ISL exhibits, and (3) engaging youth with LD in a co-design process to generate guidelines for exhibit development. These goals will be pursued first in an exploratory, descriptive study, and then in a set of experimental studies in exhibit components purposefully selected to reflect different motivation-related design approaches. The final phase of work will be a design charrette in which high-school students with LD work with ISL researchers and practitioners to generate practice-focused resources.

The external evaluation has two major purposes. The first purpose is to support the iterative improvement of project activities by (a) providing oversight and guidance to ensure that the research methods employed by the project team are rigorous and that the research findings are valid and reliable, and (b) examining how research and practice inform and influence each other in this project. The second purpose is to promote accountability by monitoring and documenting the progress that the project is making toward its goals and objectives.