Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Child Development


This study explored the associations between immersive exhibit design, mother-child engagement, conversational interactions, and children's learning. Participants were 41 mothers and their 6-8-year-old children (Mage=7.15, SD=.79). A within-subjects, mixed methods approach was utilized, including naturalistic observations, interview data, and surveys. Mother-child dyads were video and audio-recorded as they visited four different exhibits: two low immersion exhibits and two high immersion exhibits. Interview data was collected from children immediately following the visit to assess learning. Survey data was collected from mothers to assess education, environmental predispositions, and science-related career. In high immersion exhibits, mothers and children spent more time and asked more open-ended questions than in low immersion exhibits. Children also reported that they learned the most in high immersion exhibits, mentioning high immersion exhibits more often than low immersion exhibits in post-visit interviews. Mothers and children spent more time naming and describing animals and habitats in low immersion exhibits when compared to high immersion exhibits; however, these conversational interactions were not related to children's learning. Lastly, regardless of exhibit type, children's explanatory responses and joint talk were related to children's learning. Implications for museum professionals and future directions for this work are discussed.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.