Date of Award

8-2014

Level of Access

Campus-Only Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department

Teaching

Advisor

Daniel Capps

Second Committee Member

Michelle Smith

Third Committee Member

Jonathan T. Shemwell

Abstract

In recent years, there has been a growing need for designed settings like museums and science centers to collect visitor data. Visitor data can help these settings secure funding and provide valuable information on visitor experience, which can be used to improve programming. Unfortunately, many institutions struggle in developing effective data collection systems due to the lack of time, resources, and/or expertise. Furthermore, few studies have examined ways in which designed settings can run visitor studies, leaving staff at these settings with limited information on how data might be effectively collected.

This study examined the potential of using personal response systems as a method for collecting survey data. Data collection took place at a local science center that runs a space-themed role-play for visiting school groups. Over the course of six months, 448 students responded to the survey immediately after they completed the role-play. Results showed that use of personal response systems increased response rate over previous survey methods. Furthermore, the self-reported multiple-choice survey data provided valuable information for the center. Findings from this investigation suggest that the student experience depended on the roles they were assigned. As a check on the validity of the survey, I compared the survey results with additional data from the science center program and found they were consistent. This consistency indicates that information collected by personal response systems can help the science center learn about and improve their program.

Findings from this study provide evidence that personal response systems could form part of a successful data collection system for designed settings. The technology allowed for quick and efficient data collection and provided data in a form that was immediately useful for the institution. With personal response systems, staff can make measurements concerning many different factors about the program, gather visitor data, and make more informed decisions.

Share