Tapping into Floor Staff: Using the knowledge of floor staff to conduct formative evaluations of exhibits in a Canadian science centre
Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (Two Years)), 20 credits / 30 HE creditsStudent thesis
Most science centres in Canada employ science-educated floor staff to motivate visitorsto have fun while enhancing the educational reach of the exhibits. Although bright andsensitive to visitors’ needs, floor staff are rarely consulted in the planning,implementation, and modification phases of an exhibit. Instead, many developmentteams rely on costly third-party evaluations or skip the front-end and formativeevaluations all together, leading to costly errors that could have been avoided. This studywill seek to reveal a correlation between floor staff’s perception of visitors’ interactionswith an exhibit and visitors’ actual experiences. If a correlation exists, a recommendationcould be made to encourage planning teams to include floor staff in the formative andsummative evaluations of an exhibit. This is especially relevant to science centres withlimited budgets and for whom a divide exists between floor staff and management.In this study, a formative evaluation of one exhibit was conducted, measuring both floorstaff’s perceptions of the visitor experience and visitors’ own perceptions of the exhibit.Floor staff were then trained on visitor evaluation methods. A week later, floor staff andvisitors were surveyed a second time on a different exhibit to determine whether anincrease in accuracy existed.The training session increased the specificity of the motivation and comprehensionresponses and the enthusiasm of the staff, but not their ability to predict observedbehaviours with respect to ergonomics, learning indicators, holding power, and successrates. The results revealed that although floor staff underestimated visitors’ success ratesat the exhibits, staff accurately predicted visitors’ behaviours with respect to holdingpower, ergonomics, learning indicators, motivation and comprehension, both before andafter the staff training.
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2008. , 87 p.
science centre, science center, Science World, formative evaluation, floor staff, science facilitator, interpreter, demonstrator, evaluator, professional development, training
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:du-12607OAI: oai:DiVA.org:du-12607DiVA: diva2:627979