Exhibitions as learning environments: a review of empirical research on students’ science learning at Natural History Museums, Science Museums and Science Centres


  • Nils Petter Hauan University of Bergen
  • Stein Dankert Kolstø University of Bergen




Science centres and museums, Learning in informal learning institutions, 6-18, Review of empirical research


One aim for many natural history museums, science museums and science centres is to contribute to school-related learning in science. In this article we review published empirical studies of this challenging area. The review indicates that the effectiveness of educational activities at different types of science-communication venues (SCV) in supporting students’ science learning varies. There is also evidence of interesting differences between activities, depending on how these activities are designed. Firstly, these activities can stimulate interest and conceptual focus through a well-designed combination of structure and openness. Secondly, they can stimulate talks and explorations related to the presented topics. We have identified two possible areas which might prove fruitful in guiding further research: an exploration of the effects of different designs for guided exploratory learning, and an evaluation of the effectiveness of educational activities by studying the presence and quality of the learning processes visitors are engaged in.


Author Biographies

Nils Petter Hauan, University of Bergen

PhD - candidate in Science Centre Pedagogy

at Department of Physics and Technology

Stein Dankert Kolstø, University of Bergen

Science education and outreach
at Department of Physics and Technology