The Lawrence Hall of Science
The public science center of the University of California, Berkeley.
Open Wednesday - Sunday
10:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m.
April 1 - 9 open daily
Bring your students to The Lawrence, or bring our inquiry-based science programs to you.
We partner with school districts to support science learning. We offer district-wide elementary, middle, and high school programs, either virtually or in-person.
We collaborate with a range of partners to innovate in science education. Together, we go further.
Identifying causal relationships is an important aspect of research and evaluation in visitor studies, such as making claims about the learning outcomes of a program or exhibit. Experimental and quasi-experimental approaches are powerful tools for addressing these causal questions. However, these designs are arguably underused in visitor studies. In this article, we offer examples of the use of experimental and quasi-experimental designs in science museums to aide investigators interested in expanding their methods toolkit and increasing their ability to make strong causal claims about programmatic experiences or relationships among variables. Using three designs from recent research (fully randomized experiment, posttest only quasi-experimental design with comparison condition, and posttest with independent pretest design), we discuss challenges and tradeoffs related to feasibility, participant experience, alignment with research questions, and internal and external validity. We end the article with broader reflections on the role of experimental and quasi-experimental designs in visitor studies.
Pattison, S., Gutwill, J., Auster, R., & Cannady, M. (2019). Experimental and quasi-experimental designs in visitor studies: A critical reflection on three projects. Visitor Studies, 22(1), 43–66.
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