The effects of visitor perceptions and encoding cues on learning from museum exhibits

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The effects of visitor perceptions and encoding cues on learning from museum exhibits
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Foster, John Scott, 1959-
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Museums -- Educational aspects   ( lcsh )
Learning, Psychology of   ( lcsh )
Non-formal education   ( lcsh )
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non-fiction   ( marcgt )

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Thesis (Ph. D.)--University of Florida, 1992.
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Includes bibliographical references (leaves 119-123).
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by John Scott Foster.
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Typescript.
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Vita.

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Full Text







THE EFFECTS OF VISITOR PERCEPTIONS AND ENCODING CUES ON
LEARNING FROM MUSEUM EXHIBITS














By

JOHN SCOTT FOSTER









A DISSERTATION PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL
OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT
OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF
DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY

UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA

1992


UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA LIRARIES
























Copyright 1992

by

John Scott Foster












ACKNOWLEDGMENTS


I would like to extend my gratitude to Drs. John J. Koran, Jr., Mary Lou

Koran, John F. Eisenberg, Linda Jones, and Eugene Todd for their support throughout

the development of this dissertation. Their advice, encouragement, and patience has

been invaluable.

This dissertation would not have been realized without the help provided by my

friends and fellow graduate students. I would like to extend my thanks to those that

have contributed their skills, undergraduate classes, resources, and moral support over

the past years: Dan Lofald, Dan Pearson, Paul Andreadis, Harriet Landers, Ann

Donnelley, Catherine Urquhart, Kenny Cyrus, and Jim Ellis. I would like to also

acknowledge the late Dr. Robert Jester for his help in establishing test reliability and

providing his students as subjects for the project.

I would like to thank my parents, Mr. and Mrs. James E. Foster, who have

provided continued support and encouragement, as well as generous grants, while

waiting patiently for their son to become Dr. John Scott Foster. I would also like to

thank Mr. and Mrs. Fred Goldsmith for their contribution to this undertaking.

And most of all, I wish to acknowledge my wife, Karin, for hours of editing

and unending enthusiasm, support, and understanding over the past 4 years.















TABLE OF CONTENTS

P-ag
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS............................ ........... ...... iii

LIST OF TABLES ........................................ ......................... vi

LIST OF FIGURES .......................... ... ...................... ix

ABSTRACT .............................................................................. x

CHAPTERS

1 INTRODUCTION ........................................................... ... 1

P urpose..................................... ............................... 1
Background to the Problem............................................. 1
Summary ................................................................. 5

2 REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE.................... ..................... 6

Informal Learning Centers: An Overview ........................... 6
Visitor Attention and Learning from Exhibits........................ 6
The Effect of Learner Perceptions on Achievement ................. 14
The Effect of Encoding Cues on Achievement........................ 17
Aptitude Treatment Interactions and Learning in
Informal Settings ...............................................22
Sum m ary................................................................. 29
Hypotheses................................................................29

3 MATERIALS AND METHODS......................................31

Subjects and Treatment Groups ..................................... 31
M aterials............................................................... 32
Measures ............................................................32
General Procedure......................................................34
Statistical Analyses.....................................................35








4 RESULTS.........................................36

Research Questions .....................................................36
V ariables............................ ................. ........... 37
Subject Report of Effort Expended on Task ........................41
Time on Task .............................. ................ ........ 43
Subject Report of Task Difficulty ...................................45
Posttreatment Museum Demand Characteristics.....................48
Total Test Score ............................ .......................... 52
Scores on High Level Subtest .........................................53
Scores on Low Level Subtest...........................................54
Summ ary of Results ............................. ..................... 59

5 DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSION....................................61

Perceived Museum Demand Characteristics, Effort, and
Time on Task ....................... ............... ......61
Effect of Instructions.......................................................67
Aptitude Treatment Interactions...................................69
Conclusion and Implications for Future Research....................71

GLOSSARY ................................... ...... ... ..................77

APPENDICES

A MATERIAL FOR TEXT TREATMENT GROUP........................78

B MUSEUM DEMAND CHARACTERISTICS TEST AND SELF
REPORT ITEMS........................................................93

C ACHIEVEMENT TEST..................... ......................95

D R-SQUARED VALUES FOR ALL SIGNIFICANT MODELS ...... 102

E MULTIPLE REGRESSION SUMMARY TABLES FOR MAIN
EFFECTS .............................................................. 103

F MULTIPLE REGRESSION SUMMARY TABLES FOR
TREATMENT EFFECTS........................................... 108

G MULTIPLE REGRESSION SUMMARY TABLES FOR
APTITUDE TREATMENT INTERACTIONS................... 113

REFERENCES............................................................. 119

BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH......................... ....................... 124












LIST OF TABLES


Table Page


3-1. Reliability of Museum Demand Characteristics Test and Achievement
Tests ...... .............................. ............. ..35

4-1. Aptitude Data ......................... .......... .........................38

4-2. Correlations between Hidden Figures Test, Associative Memory,
Verbal Fluency, and Total Test Score...............................39

4-3. Outcome Data................................. .......................40

4-4. Means and Standard Deviations regarding Subject Report of Museums
as Fun.................................................... ................41

4-5. Descriptive Statistics for Museum Demand Characteristics X
Treatment Interactions for Subject Report of Invested Effort ......42

4-6. Descriptive Statistics regarding Effort X Treatment Interactions for
Time Spent on Task.....................................................45

4-7. Summary of Main Effects...................... ............................46

4-8. Descriptive Statistics regarding Time on Task X Treatment
Interactions Regarding Perceived Task Difficulty..................48

4-9. Descriptive Statistics for Treatment Effects and Aptitude X Treatment
Interactions Regarding Posttreatment Museum Demand
Characteristics .......................................................52

4-10. Descriptive Statistics for Treatment Effects Regarding Low
Level Subtest Score ............................................... .....57

4-11. Descriptive Statistics for Aptitude X Treatment Interactions
Regarding Low Level Subtest Score................................58

5-1. Variation in Experimental Relationships as a Function of Test and
Predictor Variable ..................................... .............74

E-l. The Effect of Museum Demand Characteristics (MDC) on Perceived
Difficulty of Task..................................................... 103

E-2. The Effect of Verbal Fluency on Total Test Score........................... 103

E-3. The Effect of Associative Memory on Total Test Score..................... 104








E-4. The Effect of Hidden Figures Score on Total Test Score................... 104

E-5. The Effect of Time on Total Test Score........................................ 104

E-6. The Effect of Hidden Figures Test Score, Verbal Fluency, and
Associative Memory on Total Test Score............................ 105

E-7. The Effect of Hidden Figures Score on High Level Subtest Score.......... 105

E-8. The Effect of Verbal Fluency on High Level Subtest Score.................. 105

E-9. The Effect of Subject Task Preference on High Level Subtest Score ....... 106

E-10. The Effect of Hidden Figures Test Score, Verbal Fluency, and
Associative Memory on High Level Subtest Score............... 106

E- 1. The Effect of Time on Task on Low Level Subtest Score................. 107

F-1. The Effect of Treatment on Time on Task ..................................... 108

F-2. The Effect of Treatment on Low Level Subtest Score....................... 109

F-3. The Effect of Treatment on Low Level Subtest Score, Controlling
for Verbal Fluency .................................................. 110

F-4. The Effect of Treatment on Low Level Subtest Score, Controlling
for Associative Memory ........................................ .. 111

F-5. The Effect of Treatment on Low Level Subtest Score, Controlling
for Hidden Figures Test Score....................................... 112

G-1. The Interaction between Museum Demand Characteristics (MDC)
and Treatment on Subject Report of Effort Expended on
Task................................................................. 113

G-2. The Interaction between Subject Report of Effort Expended on Task
and Treatment on Time Spent on Task............................. 114

G-3. The Interaction between Time Spent on Task and Treatment on
Subject Report of Task Difficulty ................................... 115

G-4. The Interaction between Subject Report of Effort Expended on Task
and Treatment on Posttreatment Museum Demand
Characteristics ........................................................ 116

G-5. The Interaction between Pretreatment Museum Demand Characteristics
(MDC) and Treatment on Posttreatment Museum Demand
Characteristics ......................................................... 117

G-6. The Interaction between Task Preference and Treatment on Low Level
Subtest Score........................................................... 118














LIST OF FIGURES


Figure Page

4-1. The interaction between museum demand characteristics and
treatment on subject report of effort expended on task...............43

4-2. The interaction between effort and treatment on time spent on
task.......................... .......... ..... .... ................ ..44

4-3. The interaction between time on task and treatment on perceived
task difficulty ............................... .............................47

4-4. The interaction between effort and treatment on posttreatment
museum demand characteristics (MDC) .............................50

4-5. The interaction between pretreatment museum demand characteristics
and treatment on posttreatment museum demand
characteristics........................................................... 51

4-6. The effect of treatment on low level subtest after controlling for verbal
fluency....................................................................56

4-7. The interaction between task preference and treatment on low level
subtest score .................................................. .........58













Abstract of Dissertation Presented to the Graduate School
of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the
Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy

THE EFFECTS OF VISITOR PERCEPTIONS AND ENCODING CUES ON
LEARNING FROM MUSEUM EXHIBITS


By
John Scott Foster

May 1992

Chairman: Dr. John J. Koran, Jr.
Major Department: Instruction and Curriculum


This study investigated the effect of (a) visitors' perceptions of museums on

time spent on learning; (b) media and task instructions on achievement; (c) task

difficulty on effort invested in learning from exhibits; and (d) verbal ability,

disembedding ability, associative memory and task preference on achievement as a

function of treatment.

The study incorporated four treatment groups. Three treatment groups viewed a

series of museum exhibits; however, each treatment group received different task

instructions. The fourth treatment group read an exhibit transcript. One hundred sixty-

seven subjects recruited from undergraduate education courses were randomly assigned

to treatments. Achievement was measured with a test composed of 29 recall and

recognition items and eight synthesis, application and analysis items. All hypotheses

were tested at the .05 significance level.

There was no positive relationship between subjects' perceptions of the amount

of work involved and effort invested in learning for any treatment group. A positive








relationship between amount of invested effort and time on task was only noted for

subjects who were instructed to summarize each exhibit's content. There was no

relationship between subjects' perceptions of the amount of work involved or amount

effort invested in learning and achievement. Results indicated the time on task, hidden

figures test score, task preference and verbal fluency were significant predictors of

success in learning from museum exhibits. Interactions were noted between treatment

and task preference and time on task for the low level subtest.

Implications of this study are (a) that individual interests and internally set

learning goals of visitors may result in visitors bypassing exhibits deemed too difficult,

rather than investing more effort in learning; (b) simple instructions can significantly

affect achievement; and (c) learner aptitudes can significantly affect achievement.














CHAPTER 1
INTRODUCTION


Purpose

This study had four objectives: (a) to examine the effect of visitors' perceptions

of museums on time spent on learning, effort invested in learning and the relationship

between effort and achievement; (b) to investigate the effect of method of information

presentation on achievement; (c) to examine the effect of encoding cues on

achievement, (d) to ascertain the effect of task difficulty on mental effort invested in

learning from museum exhibits; and (e) to investigate the interaction between

treatments and learner characteristics such as verbal ability, disembedding ability,

associative memory, and task preference in relationship to achievement.


Background to the Problem

Education has traditionally been viewed as taking place in a classroom.

However, estimates suggest that only approximately 30 % of the learning that takes

place in the classroom can be attributed to variables in the formal school environment

(Gage, 1978). Clearly, considerable learning occurs outside the formal classroom

environment. Learning in informal settings, such as museums, zoos, science centers,

and field trip experiences, has assumed an increasingly important role in augmenting

classroom instruction for school age students and for adults pursuing continuing

education. Despite its large role in education, a complete understanding of learning in

informal settings has remained problematic.








Because the first step in learning is attending to a stimulus, a large number of

studies on learning in informal settings have been carried out to determine exhibit

characteristics that maximize attention, or as museologists refer to it, attracting and

holding power (Koran, Longino, & Shafer, 1983). Researchers have examined the

effects of elements such as visual attractiveness, length of labels, and intensity of

illumination on the attracting and holding power of exhibits (Falk, Koran, Dierking, &

Dreblow, 1985). Findings from this line of research have clearly demonstrated that

manipulation of exhibit characteristics can result in increased attracting and holding

power. However, holding power is rarely increased to a level where visitors attend to

exhibits long enough to read all of the textual material (Peart, 1984). The relatively low

holding powers reported, independent of exhibit characteristics, make it difficult to

infer that significant learning occurs in informal settings.

Although visitor behavior is affected by exhibit characteristics, learning may be

more a function of visitor characteristics. The visitor characteristic that has been

predominant in literature dealing with learning in informal settings is visitor

preparation. Positive learning outcomes have been associated with four situations: (a)

when visitors were given previsit instructions that provided background knowledge and

learning strategies which facilitated comprehension of exhibits; (b) when congruence

between visitor knowledge and exhibit content existed; (c) when questions were

presented to guide visitors to salient features of an exhibit; and (d) when exhibits were

designed with consideration of the visitor's cognitive ability (Koran et al., 1983).

Thus, one objective of this study was to inquire as to the effect that simple instructions

would have on achievement in a museum setting.

One visitor characteristic that may have a significant effect on learning in

informal settings, independent of exhibit characteristics and visitor cognitive ability, is

the amount of effort that an individual devotes to what is to be learned. Salomon

(1983), in an exploration of learning from television versus print, noted that learner








perceptions of an information source (e.g., television, text, lecture, and museum

exhibit), perceptions of the task to be carried out, and perceived efficacy of learning

from a particular information source had profound effects on the amount of mental

effort an individual invested in a task. Individuals who perceived a task or information

source as entertaining, fun, easy, or unrealistic were less likely to invest a great deal of

mental effort. Conversely, individuals who perceived an information source or task as

realistic or difficult were more likely to invest a greater amount of mental effort into the

task. Increasing the amount of mental effort invested in a task is likely to result in

increased elaboration and integration of information into an organized schema. Thus,

knowledge gain was a function of the interaction of the subject's perceptions of the

information source and the tasks to be performed.

Examination of visitor perceptions of informal learning centers indicates that

most visitors view these centers more as a means of entertainment than as a learning

experience (Kellert, 1979). Given that visitors perceive museums as fun and

entertaining, it could be predicted that very little effort would be invested in learning

from informal settings and, subsequently, very little learned. This would imply that

efforts to change subjects' perceptions of informal learning centers may ultimately be

more productive than changing the exhibits. In order to explore the relationship

between individual perceptions and achievement, one objective of this study was to

determine the impact of perceived demand characteristics of museums on learning from

museum exhibits.

One method to increase the amount of mental effort that is invested in learning

in informal settings may be through the provision of tasks which the visitor would

perceive as difficult. Researchers studying learning from television, text, and lecture

have noted that the provision of encoding instructions can change learners' perceptions

of task difficulty. Glover, Plake, and Zimmer (1982) noted that "difficult initial

processing implies more extensive or elaborate analysis and that this more extensive








analysis is reflected in a richer, more extensive memory record" (p 191). They also

observed that distinctiveness of encoding of an event is determined in part by the

operations a person carries out and not by the materials themselves. The recall of

individuals who received specific instructions concerning task requirements was

significantly improved, both qualitatively and quantitatively, when compared to the

recall of individuals who did not receive instructions. Annis (1985) noted that not only

did the individuals who received instructions recall more, but were able to successfully

answer questions that involved making inferences and drawing logical conclusions

derived from but not explicitly stated within the text.

The relationship among instructions, encoding, and cognitive gains has been

replicated in research examining learning from television, lecture, and text, which

incorporated a variety of instructional prompts (Field & Anderson, 1985; Peper &

Mayer, 1986). It could be hypothesized that if instructions served to increase the

learners perceived demands of the task, then when the learner is directed to meet certain

criteria or carry out specific tasks, the task is perceived as being more difficult. The

learner subsequently invests more effort into the task at hand which is positively

associated with achievement. In informal learning settings the provision of instructions

for tasks that are believed to be difficult, as opposed to simply looking at the exhibit,

may compensate for visitor perceptions of museums as entertaining and result in

increased amounts of effort being invested in learning. Thus, a third objective of this

study was to examine the effect of treatment difficulty on mental effort invested in the

task.

Achievement in informal learning centers may be due to more than the factors of

visitor perceptions of the source of information and how the learner is directed to use

the information. The effect of general ability on achievement in formal and informal

settings has been emphasized in numerous studies (Koran & Koran, 1975, Shirey &

Reynolds, 1988). The ability to distinguish relevant information from an irrelevant








background, restructure this information into manageable "chunks," and deal with

verbally complex questions that call for problem solving skills, has also been positively

related to achievement (Carter, LaRussa, & Bodner, 1987; Chandran, Treagust, &

Bodner, 1987; Pribyl & Tobin, 1987; Staver & Jacks, 1988). Also, it could be

hypothesized that an individual's ability to hold increasing amounts of information in

short term memory is likely to be related to variation in achievement in informal

settings. Consequently, it could be hypothesized that these abilities would play a more

important role in predicting achievement when task instructions focus the individual

toward learning goals which call for the careful processing of exhibit content. Thus, a

fourth objective of this study was to investigate the interaction of the aforementioned

aptitudes with the treatments when examining learning in museum contexts.


Summary

As informal learning centers are recognized as an important component of an

individual's overall intellectual development, it is of increasing importance that the

effectiveness of these centers be maximized. Although a great deal of research has been

carried out which focused on exhibit attracting and holding power, little data are

available on the direct relationship between exhibit characteristics and learning.

Researchers examining learning from television, text and lecture have shown that

visitor perceptions of the information source and tasks to be carried out can have a

significant effect on learning. However, the effect of these variables on learning in

informal settings has not been examined. Research, therefore, is needed to discern

how the following factors affect learning in an informal setting: learner perceptions of

the information source, tasks to be carried out with the source, and learner abilities.














CHAPTER 2
REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE


Informal Learning Centers: An Overview


Museums, zoological parks, and science and technology centers all

maintain a common goal of providing learning experiences for visitors. These

centers also have a number of other characteristics in common which set the

parameters for informal learning settings. Compared to learning in formal

environments, informal learning settings can be described by providing free

choice, intrinsic motivation and self-directed activities where time and

sequencing patterns of attention vary with characteristics of the learner and the

exhibits. Organizations that may be considered informal learning centers also

vary widely in terms of what is curated and how objects are interpreted. Art

museums, history museums, science and technology centers, natural history

museums, zoological parks, and aquaria all provide distinct experiences, yet all

are informal learning centers. The importance of understanding how learning

occurs in informal settings has generated a great deal of research. Given the

variety of institutions which can be classified as informal learning centers and the

variation in visitor behavior at these centers, integration of the literature into

generalizable rules or concepts is a challenging undertaking.


Visitor Attention, and Learning from Exhibits


Much of the current research has been conducted under the assumption

that a major objective of visitors in an informal learning center is to learn








(Koran Koran, & Longino, 1986). Visitor attention to a stimulus is seen as the

first step in learning. Consequently, the majority of research carried out in

informal settings has focused on visitor attention to exhibits. Here, researchers

have sought to identify exhibit characteristics that maximize an exhibit's ability to

attract visitors and the duration of time that the visitors attend to the exhibit.

The holding power of an individual exhibit tends to be quite brief. Both

modal frequencies for skewed distributions and means for normal distributions

of frequencies of time spent at an exhibit tend to be no greater than two minutes

with means and modes as low as 10 seconds (Abrahamson, Gennaro, & Heller,

1983b; Beer, 1987; Brennan, 1977). Similar holding powers have been

reported for zoological parks, observatories, aquaria and museums despite the

differences in these institutions (Beer, 1987; Bitgood & Benefield, 1987;

Brennan, 1977; Diamond, 1986; Koran, Koran, & Longino, 1986). Although

low holding powers are the norm for exhibits, some degree of variation does

exist. This variation is a function of idiosyncratic aspects of the visitor and

systematic variation in exhibits (Beer, 1987; Koran et al, 1983).

Researchers investigating attracting and holding power of exhibits have

presumed that the major determinant of visitor behavior is quality and content of

an exhibit. Variables manipulated in research examining exhibit effectiveness

include physical characteristics such as the visual attractiveness of an exhibit;

length of labels; size of label type; and presence or absence of visual, aural, or

tactile components. Information derived from studies of attention and visitor

behavior have provided essential baseline information concerning behavior

patterns at informal learning centers, behavior at individual exhibits, and the

effects of exhibit style and characteristics.

Exhibit characteristics that have been reported to affect attracting and

holding power are those that involve text presentation, exhibit illumination, and








inclusion of components which increase visitor sensory involvement. Of the

research exploring the effect of enhanced sensory involvement, tactile interaction

with an exhibit has been the most frequently manipulated variable. The ability to

manipulate objects has been demonstrated to significantly increase the attracting

and holding power of exhibits in a number of settings (Abrahamson, Gennaro,

& Heller, 1983a; Abrahamson, Gennaro, & Heller, 1983b; Beer, 1987;

Bitgood, Pierce, Nichols & Patterson, in press; Diamond, 1986; Koran, Koran,

& Longino, 1986; Koran, Morrison, Lehman, Koran, & Gandara, 1984; Peart,

1984). Questions focusing visitors on salient features of the exhibit have also

been reported to increase the holding power of exhibit labels (Serrell, 1981b).

Minimizing exhibit wordage has also been positively related to exhibit attracting

and holding power along with incorporation of content that is increasingly

concrete in nature (Bitgood, Nichols, Pierce, Conroy, & Patterson, 1986;

Serrell, 1981a; Serrell, 1981b).

In summary, exhibit attracting and holding power can be increased

significantly by increasing viewer sensory involvement. Label and sign attracting

and holding power can be increased via careful consideration of the quantity and

quality of the label text. However, further examination of research on exhibit

holding power and learning as a function of exhibit characteristics makes the

effectiveness of these changes questionable.

Researchers investigating exhibit effectiveness often systematically vary

one or two aspects of a particular exhibit. Rather than only reporting the amount

of time a visitor spends in front of an exhibit, exhibit holding power is also

reported as a distinct measure. Holding power is calculated by dividing the time

devoted to an exhibit by the total time needed to view and read all of the

components within an exhibit. Few studies report holding powers that would

allow the visitor enough time to read all of the label content. Bitgood, Pierce,








Nichols, and Patterson (1987) were able to vary holding power in a walk

through cave exhibit from approximately 50 seconds up to 200 seconds.

However, the time needed to read the adjuncts to the cave exhibit was reported to

be between 22 and 30 minutes. Peart (1984) was able to increase attracting

power by 30% in an exhibit concerning colonial nesting sea birds through the

addition of an audiotape of bird vocalizations. The holding power, however,

was never greater than 18 seconds under any condition. Baseline time for

viewing the entire exhibit was calculated to be 23 seconds. Serrell (1981b)

reported significant increases in attracting and holding power when signs at the

Brookfield Zoo were designed to guide attention and promote visitor

involvement. Visitors who read labels in this study were defined as anyone who

looked at the label for longer than 5 seconds. The time required to read the entire

label was 30 seconds. Given the relatively low holding powers reported in

research, it could be hypothesized that significant learning is not occurring in

informal learning centers as a result of exhibit holding power.

Bitgood et al. (1986) and Peart (1984), measured visitor attention and

achievement after systematically varying the characteristics of a single exhibit.

In both cases, the researchers failed to note a positive relationship between

attention and achievement. Bitgood et al. (1986), in an investigation of the effect

of label characteristics on casual visitor behavior, reported significant increases

in holding power by varying the number of words in a label, type size within the

label and proximity of labels to the exhibit. No significant differences were

noted in visitor achievement across any condition, despite the variation in

holding power. Peart (1984), investigating the effect of increased sensory

involvement on attracting and holding power, knowledge, and attitude change in

casual visitors, noted trends similar to Bitgood et al. (1986). The exhibit

incorporated in the research was varied such that it consisted of the label only,








the objects only, the label and objects, a picture of the label and objects, or label,

objects and audio components. Increased sensory involvement resulted in

increased attracting and holding power. However, increased holding power did

not result in a significant increase in achievement.

Although visitor attention is the first step in learning from exhibits,

learning may be more a function of what the visitor arrives with, rather than

what the visitor is exposed to in an informal learning center. Consistent with

this line of investigation, this study focused primarily on visitor characteristics

and did not manipulate exhibit characteristics.

Koran, Koran, and Foster (1988) suggested that researchers

investigating learning in informal settings need to take into account more than

exhibit characteristics. Desired outcomes, visitor processing activities, and

characteristics of the visitor must be taken into consideration to study learning

outcomes accurately. Researchers who have demonstrated that learning does

occur in informal learning centers have incorporated visitor characteristics into

their research protocol. Examining the research which reports on visitor

achievement is facilitated by dividing the literature into research that examined

learning on the part of school groups and learning on the part of casual visitors

to informal learning centers. This division is crucial in making generalizations

concerning learning in informal settings.

The key differences between school groups and casual visitors lie in the

ability to manipulate the amount of prior knowledge and the amount of structure

that can be imposed upon the visit. Because of the attention to prerequisite

knowledge and imposition of structure, there may be an increased "fit" between

visitor objectives and exhibit objectives for school groups. Another

consideration in examination of the literature concerning learning in informal

learning centers is whether or not research subjects were aware of a posttest of








achievement before they viewed the exhibitss. Externally imposed task

parameters have been demonstrated to significantly affect learner perceptions of a

task and subsequent behavior (Fire, 1985; Salomon, 1983; Shirey & Reynolds,

1988). These effects will be discussed in depth later in the review of the

literature.

Researchers reporting significant learning by individuals in school

groups as a result of a visit to an informal learning center have all noted some

instruction prior to exposure. This instruction served to provide knowledge

necessary to comprehend exhibit content and focus learner attention on salient

features of exhibits. For example, Linn (1980) noted that changes in 12 year

olds' scientific reasoning ability as a function of exposure to a free choice

learning environment (Lawrence Hall of Science) was maximized when students

received instruction prior to the visit. Provision of previsit instruction also

resulted in students being more task oriented, focusing more attention on the task

at hand, and investing more effort in the museum activities in which they

participated.

Other studies involving more than six hours of instruction prior to a visit

to an informal learning center have also reported significant increases in

knowledge (Gennaro, 1981; Kolar, 1980; Wright, 1980). All of these

researchers have confirmed, to a greater or lesser degree, the efficacy of

including a visit to an informal learning center in science curricula. However,

the major point here is that instruction prior to visiting an informal learning

center for instruction must occur if desired cognitive goals are to occur.

Significant learning from museum exhibits has been demonstrated to

occur by school children with a relatively minimal amount of prior instruction

(Dierking, Koran, Lehman, & Koran, 1984; Fire, 1985; Koran, Lehman,

Shafer, & Koran, 1983a). For example, Koran, Lehman, Shafer, and Koran,








(1983a), investigating the effects of pre- and postattention directing devices on

learning from a museum visit, reported a trend which followed Linn's (1980)

findings. Instruction was provided by a panel whose objective was to focus

visitor attention and identify and explain ecological concepts and relationships.

Students were instructed to study the panel and they were aware that a test would

follow. Here, students given instruction to study the panel prior to examining a

walk-through cave exhibit learned more than those receiving instruction after

exposure and those who did not view the exhibit. Koran et al. (1980) postulated

that information provided by the panel before exposure to the exhibit served to

increase visitor attention and learning by focusing visitors on salient features and

concerns of the exhibit. Similarly, Feher and Rice (1985) noted that young

children who observed teachers interacting with hands-on exhibits concerning

light and vision were not able to explain what they had observed. However,

when the children received specific questions that guided them toward the correct

interpretation, they were able to explain the phenomena.

Investigation of learning in informal learning centers which incorporate

school groups as subjects has demonstrated the efficacy of providing instruction

prior to a visit and called attention to subject cognitive abilities in order to

maximize cognitive gains. Given the dynamics of a casual visit to an informal

learning center, research involving casual visitors as subjects has focused on

characteristics other than prior knowledge and focused on provision of structure

for the casual visitor.

In an evaluation of exhibit effectiveness, Screven (1974) found that

significant learning only occurred under very specific conditions. Visitors

exhibited little if any learning from exhibits, unless they were made aware of

exhibit objectives and their attention was focused on salient features of the

exhibit. Greenglass's (1986) research carried Screven's (1974) work one step








further by examining the interaction of visitor ability with attention cues and

learning goals. Greenglass systematically varied the amount of structure

provided for the visitor. The high structure condition was quite similar to the

conditions under which Screven noted that significant learning occurred; exhibit

goals were communicated to the visitor and cues that focused visitors toward

salient features were provided. Subjects in the low structure treatment were not

provided with prompting cues. Results of the research indicated an interaction,

with low ability subjects benefiting most from the presence of attention cues and

high ability subjects performing best without attention cues. These findings

were similar to conclusions derived from the Cronbach and Snow's (1981)

review of aptitude treatment interaction literature, and emphasize the need to

consider visitor ability in exhibit design and in studies of learning in informal

learning centers.

Research examining learning in informal learning centers has varied

greatly in subject populations, treatments, instrumentation, and success or failure

in demonstrating significant learning outcomes. Instructional orientation has

been demonstrated to be a crucial factor in ensuring that learning in informal

learning centers occurs. The intensity of instructional orientation has varied

greatly, from hours of previsit instruction to simply providing visitors with

questions that guide them during their visit. Along with providing learning goals

for the visit, provision of instructional orientation may also affect the visitors'

perceptions of the amount of effort they need to invest in learning in informal

settings. It is with this in mind that achievement was investigated in regard to

subjects' perceptions of the demands of informal learning settings in this study.








The Effect of Learner Perceptions on Achievement


Many researchers working with attracting and holding power of exhibits

have assumed that the primary reason for exhibit success or failure, in terms of

visitor achievement, is a function of the nature of the stimulus. Salomon (1983),

however, argues that the nature of the stimulus, the complexity, novelty,

structuredness, pace, and other characteristics interacts with learners' abilities

only to a certain extent when considering learning outcomes. A critical factor

involved in determining learning outcomes is the amount of invested mental

effort (AIME) that an individual consciously decides to devote to learning. The

amount of mental effort an individual invests in learning is a decision made by

the learner based on two basic perceptions: perceived demand characteristics of

an information source and perceived self-efficacy. The perceived demand

characteristics of an information source are based on (a) mental requirements of

the media; (b) media attributes (depth, complexity, importance); (c) tasks to be

performed; and (d) contexts in which one is exposed. When individuals

perceive a source of information as serious and demanding, more effort is

invested in learning. Perceived self-efficacy refers to the subjective judgments

an individual makes concerning probability of success at a particular task. The

more a learner believes in her/his ability to succeed at a task, the more likely the

learner is to invest and sustain effort.

The cognitive outcome of sustained effort is deeper processing of

information from a particular source. Deep processing involves mental

elaborations of the material and increased contact with other pre-existing schema.

An increased number of memory traces, more enriched meanings arrived at,

increased long term memory storage, and recall and transfer to new material have

all been related to deeper processing. If a task is perceived as easy, "mindful,"








active processing of information is bypassed and "mindless" processing occurs.

Mindless processing results in poor performance on cognitive outcome measures

(Salomon, 1983).

Salomon (1984) investigated the effects of learner perceptions and AIME

on learning from two different instructional media: film and print. Subjects

were instructed to either watch a film or read a text. Attention cues were not

provided and the subjects were not made aware of an impending posttest. In this

comparison film was perceived as realistic and easy, and learners reported high

levels of self-efficacy. Print was perceived as demanding and requiring more

effort. The outcome of the study was that self-efficacy was positively correlated

with AIME for the print treatment group and negatively correlated with AIME for

the film treatment group. There was no significant difference in ability to answer

questions calling for recognition of events or actions that occurred in the film or

text between treatment groups. Subjects who were exposed to printed material

did show an increased ability to make inferences pertaining to the material read

relative to subjects who viewed the film.

Nonetheless, learner perceptions of media are open to change. Kunkle,

as cited in Salomon (1983) was able to vary learner perceptions of television and

subsequent learning by telling subjects that the same television program was

destined to be broadcast on either commercial or public TV. When told that the

program being viewed was to be broadcast on public TV, more effort was

invested and more learned, relative to the group who believed that the program

was to be broadcast on commercial TV. Subjects in either treatment group were

not provided with attention cues, were not made aware of the posttest, and were

simply instructed to watch the program. The lack of an externally set task is

important, because it could be hypothesized that the provision of an externally

set task would affect the amount of invested mental effort. Salomon (1984)








noted that AIME is influenced by learner perceptions of the information source

only "when relevant skills of effortful elaboration are available to learners, and in

the absence of explicit, specific and unambiguous task requirements" (p. 649).

Research undertaken to investigate how perceptions of instructional

media affect the amount of invested mental effort and learning has been limited to

film, and television and print, except in one situation. Fire (1985), in an

investigation of the effect of test cues, curiosity and AIME on learning from a

museum exhibit, reported a significant and positive relationship between AIME

and cognitive gain. However, the instrument which was used to measure AIME

did not include any measure of perceived demand characteristics or perceived

self-efficacy. The measurement was limited to a self-report of the amount effort

the individual invested in the task. Also, the research protocol involved the use

of exhibit mock-ups being brought to a classroom and was not actually carried

out in an informal learning center.

An examination of visitor perceptions of informal learning centers would

suggest that perceived demand characteristics of museums are quite low.

Researchers investigating visitor goals for a visit to an informal setting noted that

the primary reasons for a visit were for social and aesthetic purposes unrelated to

the center's explicit educational goals (Cheek, 1976; Kellert, 1979; Kimche,

1978; Laetsch, Diamond, Gottfried, & Rosenfeld, 1980; Thier, 1984; White &

Barry, 1984) When educational goals are reported in surveys of visitor

perceptions and motivations, these goals are most often intended for another

family member or group member and not for the individual surveyed.

In summary, the general absence of individually set goals of learning and

the high frequency of goals dealing with social, aesthetic, and entertainment

concerns would suggest that individual perceptions of informal learning centers

may be a crucial factor in explaining the variation in learning. The amount that a








visitor learns from a visit to an informal learning center may be influenced by

AIME to a much greater degree than issues concerning exhibit characteristics.


The Effect of Encoding Cues on Achievement.


Salomon (1983) postulated that AIME could be affected by the provision

of explicit, specific, and unambiguous task requirements. An examination of the

literature dealing with the encoding and processing of information would suggest

that provision of specific instructions before being confronted with learning

tasks in an informal learning center serves to change visitors' perceptions of

perceived task demands. Providing a specific, unambiguous task that is

perceived as difficult, may compensate for low perceived demand characteristics

of a particular information source. Glover, Plake, and Zimmer (1982) point out

that "difficult initial processing implies more extensive or elaborate analysis and

that this more extensive analysis is reflected in a richer, more extensive memory

record" (p. 191). This comment parallels Salomon's (1983) hypothesis that

perceptions of an information source influence the amount of invested mental

effort and that increasing effort leads to increased elaboration of the material.

Salomon, however, was commenting on perceptions of an information source

whereas Glover et al. were commenting on the perceptions of task difficulty.

Glover, Plake, and Zimmer (1982) systematically varied the difficulty of

a task in order to study the relationship between task difficulty and recall.

Subjects were presented with definitions of behavioral objectives as described by

Bloom's taxonomy, then given 20 objectives and asked to identify each type.

Following this activity, the subjects were asked to recall as many of the 20 items

that they could. Task difficulty was not based on subjects' perceptions of the

task, but inferred from the average probability of correctly identifying different

objective types. Task difficulty was shown to increase as one moved from








identifying knowledge and comprehension objectives to identifying analysis and

synthesis objectives. Glover et al. noted that objectives which were more

difficult to identify were recalled at a higher rate. The finding that recall was

positively related to increasing task difficulty is congruent with Salomon's

(1984) finding that increasing perceptions of task difficulty is positively

associated with learning outcomes.

Glover et al. (1982) clearly demonstrated the effect of task difficulty on

encoding and recall of unrelated items for subjects in a single treatment group.

The relationship between instructions, encoding and achievement has been

carried out using radio, television, lecture, and text with a variety of instructional

prompts used as encoding cues (Annis, 1985; Einstein, Morris, & Smith, 1985;

Field & Anderson, 1985; Glover, Plake, Roberts, Zimmer, & Palmere, 1981;

Peper & Mayer, 1986). Each of these research projects involved a single

instructional media and two or more treatment groups. Treatments differed in

the encoding cues subjects received. Each researcher assumed that the degree of

difficulty or the degree of effort involved varied with the encoding cues

provided. These researchers also noted that the instructions provided can have

significant effects on what information is attended to and the degree to which the

information is integrated.

Field and Anderson (1985) reported that the amount of effort invested in

learning from television could be increased by providing instructions prior to

viewing. Children who were prompted to "watch carefully" and were aware of

an impending posttest performed significantly better on a posttest that examined

cognitive gain, relative to children who watched the same program for

entertainment. An interaction was noted between the instructions and the

modality emphasized in the television program (audio versus visual versus

audiovisual). Instructions elicited significant improvement for programs that








emphasized visual characteristics on both the cued recall and free recall posttests.

Field and Anderson proposed an interaction between learning strategies and

instructions. Here, children used audio cues as a means of selectively paying

attention to visual material. When viewing television programs in which very

little information was provided by the auditory modality and in the absence of

instructions to "watch carefully", children paid little attention to the programs

with visual emphasis and learned significantly less. Instructions to "watch

carefully" appear to have selectively focused attention on visual aspects and

subsequent learning from media that emphasized visual input. Provision of

instruction also resulted in children reporting more effort invested in learning.

In an examination of the effect of note taking on learning from lecture,

Einstein, Morris, and Smith (1985) compared cognitive gains of individuals

instructed to take notes relative to individuals who were instructed to listen.

Neither group was aware of an impending posttest that involved free recall of

lecture material. Einstein et al. failed to discover any overall effect of treatment.

When information recalled was scored according to the level of of an item's

importance in the text, a significant interaction was found. Note takers recalled

significantly more propositions of high importance relative to subjects in the

listen-only group.

Peper and Mayer (1986) reported similar findings when note takers were

compared to listen-only subjects in their ability to answer questions regarding

lecture material. When material was unfamiliar to the subjects, note takers

performed significantly better than the listen-only group on problem solving

questions. The note taking group performed marginally worse on questions

calling for syntactic verbatim recognition, semantic verbatim recognition, and

fact retention of unfamiliar material. When material was familiar, the note taking

group and the listen-only group were not significantly different in their ability to








deal with questions calling for syntactic verbatim recognition, semantic verbatim

recognition, fact retention, and problem solving. Peper and Mayer hypothesized

that note taking served to relate presented information to existing knowledge

and, thus, build a more integrated or broader learning outcome. They also

hypothesized that, because of the reorganization of material resulting from note

taking, performance on questions calling for syntactic verbatim recognition,

semantic verbatim recognition, and fact retention was hindered when dealing

with familiar material.

Although Einstein et al. (1985) and Peper and Mayer (1986) did not

consider task difficulty within their research, the interpretations of their data are

congruent with AIME theory. Both groups of researchers hypothesized that

instructions given to subjects serve to increase the amount of effort invested by

the learner. They also hypothesized that the increased effort results in increased

elaboration and integration of new material with existing schema. Thus, it

would appear that instructions serve to change subjects' perceptions of task

difficulty when learning from oral discourse.

Researchers examining the effects of encoding instruction on learning

from text have incorporated a broader range of instructions into their

experimental protocol than were used in the previously discussed studies.

Encoding instructions significantly affected subjects' ability to successfully

answer questions that vary in the processing demands that are placed upon the

learner. Instructions which call for information summary have been associated

with a decreased ability to successfully answer questions that call for synthesis,

analysis, and evaluation. For instance, Annis (1985) compared the effect of

instructions on learning from text. Subjects were placed in one of three

treatment groups which varied as a function of instructions received; take

continuous notes, write paragraph summaries, or read only. Although the type








of information acquired by individual learners, under specific treatments, could

vary without significantly changing overall learning, Annis's posttest included

items that varied as described by Bloom's taxonomy. Annis found no

significant differences between groups for knowledge or comprehension

questions. For questions concerning analysis or application, the paragraph

summary group scored significantly higher than either of the other groups. The

reading only and continuous notes group scored significantly higher on

synthesis and evaluation questions. Annis postulated that the difference between

the note taking groups was due to a time restriction that limited the paragraph

summary group. Thus, paragraph summary students benefited from

paraphrasing textual material but did not have time to relate or associate new

material with previously existing schema.

Glover, Plake, Roberts, Zimmer, and Palmere (1981) also examined the

effects of note taking on encoding and learning from text. Glover et al. noted

subjects would actively associate new and old material when prompted to do so

while taking notes. The integration of material was demonstrated to occur to a

greater degree for subjects prompted to do so relative to groups that were

instructed to read a text or summarize paragraphs within the text. There was no

significant difference between either notetaking group in the ability to recall

information from the text. The notetaking groups did recall significantly more

information than subjects who were instructed to read the text and not take notes.

In research involving learning from television, text and lecture, the

provision of instructions had differential effects on learning outcomes. It is with

this in mind that achievement was investigated in regard to subjects' ability to

successfully answer recall and recognition questions and synthesis, analysis and

application questions. It can be inferred from studies examining the effect of

instructions on encoding and learning from text and oral communication that the








instructions can change subjects' perceptions of task difficulty and subsequently

the amount of invested mental energy. No study to date has examined the effects

of instructions, perceptions of the information source, amount of invested mental

effort and learning simultaneously.



Aptitude Treatment Interactions and Learning in Informal Settings


General Ability


Visitors frequently enter an informal learning center with the goal of

being entertained. Once inside the center, visitors are exposed to a series of

exhibits. Educators and curators at informal learning centers have traditionally

used objects and exhibits to communicate information. These objects are

selected for their efficacy as examples of particular concepts and also for the

interest that they will arouse. Individual goals, interests and general ability may

interact, in ways that prevent realization of exhibit learning goals. This

possibility is supported by researchers who have investigated the relationship

between interest, attention and learning from text.

Shirey and Reynolds (1988) reported that in absence of specific learning

instructions, or given instructions such as, "read the sentences so you will be

able to recall them" (p. 165), low ability students either focus on information

they find interesting or they set goals of reading for enjoyment. Within informal

settings, attention to the interesting objects may take precedence over attention to

learning objectives. Shirey and Reynolds also noted that poor readers tend to

focus on information that is full of rich visual detail. This rich visual detail

captures the readers interest based on internally set parameters. Fluent readers,

however, define importance in terms of textual importance.








Given the rich, visual nature of an informal learning center and the

quantity of objects and events chosen specifically for their interest, it could be

predicted that a significant interaction would exist between instructional

condition and general ability. Fire (1985) noted that low ability students

benefited from encoding cues which guided them to salient features of the

exhibit, whereas high ability students performed best in the absence of these

cues. Researchers investigating learning from text and lecture have failed to

show such a relationship under similar instructional condition. (Annis, 1985;

Einstein, Morris, & Smith, 1985). The failure to note such interactions could be

a function of the differences between the media. Subjects learning from text or

lecture are not distracted by interesting objects or free to move on to other

lectures or texts that may be of greater interest to them. College students have

been shown to be able to successfully identify the level of importance of

propositions within text and recall these propositions (Annis, 1985; Einstein et

al. 1985) Thus, one might assume that college students could successfully

identify the importance level of propositions within museum exhibits and recall

these propositions. Consequently, low verbal fluency would not affect learning

in an informal setting caused by an inability to identify important information.


Flexibility of Closure


Flexibility of closure is a cognitive factor defined as "the ability to hold a given

visual percept or configuration in mind so as to disembed it from other well defined

perceptual material" (Ekstrom, French, Harman, & Derman, 1976, p. 19). French et

al. (1976) suggest that this construct be measured with the Hidden Figures Test.

Flexibility of closure is related to the cognitive style of field independence. However,

the two constructs are not identical. French et al. (1976) suggest using the Embedded

Figures Test as a measure of field independence. Researchers investigating the effect








of subjects' spatial ability or disembedding ability have used both tests or tests strongly

correlated to either the Hidden Figures Test or the Embedded Figures Test.

Flexibility of closure or disembedding ability has been incorporated into many

research projects. However, how it is measured and whether or not it is viewed as a

cognitive ability or a cognitive style has varied. Chandran, Treagust, and Tobin (1987)

and Lord (1987) both used the Hidden Figures Test as suggested by French et al. but

claims it is a measure of field independence. Other researchers have made use of the

Find-A-Shape-Puzzle, which Staver and Jacks (1988) note loads on to the the same

Factor as field independence measures, but refer to the test as a measure of spatial or

disembedding ability (Carter, LaRussa, & Bodner, 1987; Pribyl & Bodner, 1987;

Staver and Jacks, 1988).

Spiro and Tirre (1980), in an investigation of individual differences in schema

utilization, found that score on the Group Embedded Figures Test interacted

significantly with subjects' ability to superimpose a structure from memory on a

stimulus structure. Individuals who scored high on the Group Embedded Figures Test

were more able to "detect the relevance and applicability of pre-existing knowledge

schema and superimpose those structures on the text in interaction with the text

structure" (Spiro & Tirre, 1980, p. 207).

Staver and Jacks (1988), noted that increased disembedding ability, as

measured by the Find-A-Shape Puzzle (an adaptation of Gottschaldt's Hidden Figures

Test), was related positively with the ability to restructure information. They found that

when considering the effects of prior knowledge, restructuring ability and working

memory, only restructuring ability had any significant effect on students' performance

of balancing chemical equations. The ability to restructure information allowed

"learners to connect apparently unrelated facts, concepts and rules, and not overload

working memory" (p. 774). This restructuring ability would seem to be of great








importance in learning from museum exhibits, where the relationship between exhibits

is rarely explicitly stated.

Pribyl and Bodner (1987) in an examination of students' spatial ability and its

role in organic chemistry noted that there was a relationship between this particular

ability and students' success in answering questions that involved mentally

manipulating two-dimensional representations of molecules. Pribyl and Bodner (1987)

also used the Find-A-Shape-Puzzle test as a measure of spatial ability. They also found

a positive relationship between spatial ability and the ability to answer questions that

involved problem solving skills. No relationship was found between a subjects' spatial

ability and the ability to answer questions that involved rote memory or simple

algorithms. Pribyl and Bodner asserted that "high spatial students were better at

disembedding relevant information from the statement of a problem, and transforming

or restructuring the problem into one for which the student can recognize the initial and

final or goal states" (p. 238). Thus, it would appear that an advantage is gained, not

from the initial structuring and encoding of the information but the ability to understand

questions that call for problem solving, such as synthesis, analysis, application, and

evaluation questions.

Chandran, Treagust,and Tobin (1987) using the Hidden Figures Test,

suggested that variation in scores on this test related to variation in ability to disembed

relevant information from an irrelevant background. Witkin, Moore, Goodenough, and

Cos (1977) found that the ability to disembed relevant information from an irrelevant

background has contributed significantly to achievement in science.

Findings from studies by Staver and Jacks (1988), Spiro and Tirre

(1980), Pribyl and Bodner (1987) and Witkin et al. (1977), would indicate that

disembedding ability would likely be a strong predictor of an individual's ability

to learn regardless of setting. As disembedding ability increased, the ability to

superimpose knowledge structures on new information, to disembed relevant








information from an irrelevant background, to restructure new information into

manageable "chunks," and successfully answer questions that called for problem

solving with this information, also increases.

Flexibility of closure or disembedding ability as measured by the Hidden

Figures Test may be of great importance for informal settings where learners

encode information from text, objects, and pictures that are incorporated into an

exhibit. Exhibits vary greatly in amount of verbiage and ratios of verbiage to

objects, size and presentation style. In learning from a series of thematically

linked exhibits, learners are required to recognize an overall objective, organize

information from exhibits in terms of that objective and then superimpose that

information on a the newly created mental structure. The ability to determine

which characteristics of objects are relevant to the learning objectives of the

exhibit and which are superficial would be especially important Although

objects within a case are displayed because they are outstanding examples of

concepts addressed within an exhibit, they are also chosen for their aesthetic

appeal, interesting qualities, and ability to attract visitors. However, these

purposes may in fact be in conflict with one another. Superficial and irrelevant

characteristics of the object may distract the visitor from discerning how the

object exemplifies a particular concept However, it could be predicted that as

scores on the embedded figures test increase, the likelihood of being distracted

by superficial characteristics of the object would decrease. Also, it could further

be predicted that as disembedding ability decreases, learners may benefit from

the more structured format of text.







Learner task preference


Characteristics that define an informal learning center the relative lack of

structure and the setting of learning goals by the individual may have a

profound effect on learning. Domino (1968) examined college students'

academic success in classes that rewarded conforming behavior versus classes

that rewarded independent behavior. He was seeking to examine the effect of

motivational parameters that facilitate achievement. A bipolar construct was

defined with individuals ranking themselves on a scale which ranged from

extreme conformity to extreme independence. Individuals at the achievement via

conformity end performed optimally in settings where conforming behavior,

such as acceptance of regulations, a high degree of self-discipline, efficiency,

and responsibility is rewarded. Individuals at the achievement via independence

end performed optimally in situations which rewarded individuality, self-

reliance, and creative innovation. Domino found strong relationships between

measures on these scales, class type, and success in these college courses.

Conforming classes were typified by clearly defined assignments, rare use of

visual aids, and close conformity between lecture and text, among other

variables. Courses rewarding independence were characterized by a variety of

presentation types, assignments that called for divergent thinking and little

overlap between text and class discussion.

The environment, described by Domino, that rewarded independent

behavior includes many characteristics that are similar to the characteristics of

informal learning settings described by Koran et al. (1983a). As preference to

work on tasks that are internally set increases, one would predict increasing

success in learning from informal learning settings in the absence of externally

set task instructions. Conversely, as the preference to work on externally set








tasks increases, one would predict decreasing success in informal learning

settings in the absence of specific task parameters.


Associative memory


The final construct that could be predicted to interact with the study

treatments is associative memory. Masson and Miller (1983) found that scores

on a reading span test related to an individual's ability to draw inferences from,

integrate, and encode text information. But Masson and Miller noted that the

normal adult reader does not depend simply on temporary storage of text

information in working memory when considering successful reading

comprehension. Koran and Koran, (1975) reported that when subjects are

focused on relevant, question-related types of material in prose passages, there is

a positive relationship between associative memory and retention of incidental

information. Koran and Koran hypothesized that "the ability to form and

remember new associations cannot be fully capitalized upon until the explicit

nature of the associations to be formed and remembered are made clear" (p 80).

Lacking such instruction, high memory individuals were believed to try to

remember too much or form irrelevant associations. Koran and Koran's

findings would suggest that the provision of instructions that reinforce attention

to relevant material would allow associative memory to be more effectively used

in successfully answering recall and recognition questions.

Analysis of the effects of verbal fluency, associative memory,

disembedding ability, and task preference would suggest that these abilities

would interact with encoding instructions. Thus, this study incorporated the

measurement of the above stated learner aptitudes into the research protocol.







Summary


The following are the major points derived from the literature reviewed in

this chapter and which led to the hypotheses tested in this study:

1. Subject attention to exhibits is a critical step in learning from exhibits.

2. Exhibit characteristics can be modified to influence visitor attention.

3. It is difficult to infer that significant learning occurs as a function of

exhibit characteristics and visitor attention.

4. Learning in informal settings occurs when visitor goals are congruent

with exhibit goals.

5. Congruence between visitor goals and exhibit goals has occurred

when the exhibit goals are explicitly stated, or when visitors are provided with

cues that direct them to salient aspects of the exhibit.

6. The amount of effort invested in learning depends upon the perceived

demand characteristics of the information source.

7. Effort invested in a task has been shown to vary systematically with

the demands placed upon learners by task instructions.

8. Variation in task requirements can effect the degree to which

information is encoded and new information is associated with previously

acquired knowledge.

9. Learner abilities may interact with the encoding cues provided.


Hypotheses

Based on the aforementioned research, the following hypotheses were

formulated:

1. There a positive relationship between museum demand characteristics

(MDC) and effort invested in learning from museum exhibits and between MDC and








achievement, for all treatment groups, except for subjects who read a transcript of

exhibit content.

2 There is a positive relationship between effort and achievement for all

treatment groups.

3. There is a positive relationship between MDC and time spent on task for all

treatment groups, except for subjects who read a transcript of exhibit content.

4. There is a positive relationship between time on task and achievement for all

treatment groups.

5. Perceived task difficulty will vary as a function of treatment and there will be

a positive relationship between perceived task difficulty and effort and perceived task

difficulty and time on task for treatment groups viewing the exhibits.

6. There will be no significant difference between treatment group

scores on the knowledge and comprehension portion of the achievement test.

7. Subjects who read a transcript of the exhibits' content will score

significantly higher on a subtest composed of application, synthesis and analysis

questions than subjects who view an exhibit or are instructed to write down one

interesting thing from each exhibit or write down the main point.

8. Treatment will interact with subject aptitudes (verbal fluency,

associative memory, embedded figures test score, and task preference), when

examining achievement outcomes.














CHAPTER 3
MATERIALS AND METHODS


Subjects and Treatment Groups


The subjects in this study were college undergraduates enrolled in education

courses at the University of Florida. A total of 169 students volunteered to participate.

Of the 169 students, 137 of them were female and 32 were male. They were randomly

assigned into one of four treatment groups. Treatment groups were established by the

instructions given to subjects. Subjects in the "look" treatment group were simply

asked to view the exhibits in the order that they were sequenced. Subjects in the

"interest" treatment group were instructed to view the exhibits and write down one

thing that they found interesting about each exhibit. Subjects in the "main point"

treatment group were asked to view the exhibits and write down the main points) of

each exhibit. Subjects in the "text" treatment group were asked to read a transcript of

the museum exhibits. The transcript was a word for word copy of the written

information found in the 11 exhibits that the subjects in the look, interest, and main

point treatment groups encountered. Subjects in the text treatment group did not view

the exhibits. Subjects in every treatment group were informed that they could devote as

much time as they chose to the task and were instructed not to return to any exhibit once

they finished or review any material in the text created from the exhibit. There were 47

subjects in the look treatment group, 44 subjects in the interest treatment group, 39

subjects in the main point treatment group, and 37 subjects in the text treatment group.







Materials


This study was carried out at the Florida Museum of Natural History. A series

of 11 museum exhibits housed in the Discovery Room were used in the study. These

exhibits are standard case exhibits, each containing objects, pictures, diagrams, and

verbal content. All exhibits pertained to Florida natural history.

Titles of the exhibits are Mammal Invasions and Introductions in Florida,

Genetic Variation in Mammals, Florida: Land or Sea? Tropical Ice Age Mammals, The

Formation of Fossils, Invertebrate Fossils and Their Living Counterparts, Freshwater

Clams and Snails of the Gulf Coast Region, Important Clues to Bird Identification,

Identifying Birds by Their Behavior and Their Places in Environments, Poisonous

Snakes of Florida, and Interesting Amphibians and Reptiles of Florida. The previously

stated titles are given in the order that the exhibits are sequenced in the Museum. The

written material in each exhibit was transcribed and used to create a text which covered

the same material as the 11 exhibits (Appendix A).


Measures

Prior to carrying out the treatments, subjects were tested to obtain a measure of

their perceptions of museums as learning environments. This score will be referred to

as perceived museum demand characteristics (MDC). Following the treatment, subjects

reported the perceived difficulty of the treatment, the amount of effort invested in the

treatment, task preference, perceptions of museums as learning environments, and they

also took an achievement test. Tests of verbal fluency, associative memory, and the

hidden figures test were administered at the subjects' convenience as these aptitudes

were not expected to change as a result of experimental treatments. All subjects were

given the aptitude tests within a two week period before or after treatment. Definitions

of learner aptitudes and other terms critical to the work are found in the Glossary.








Measures of verbal fluency, associative memory and flexibility of closure were

taken from the Kit of Reference Tests for Cognitive Factors (French, Ekstrom, Harman

& Derman, 1976). Verbal fluency was measured using the Extended Range

Vocabulary Test (V-3). Associative Memory was measured using the First and Last

Names Test (MA-3). Disembedding ability was measured with the Hidden Figures

Test (CF-1, revised). French, Ekstrom, Harmon, and Derman (1976) report that

reliability of these factor tests has consistently been found to exceed 0.70. The

reliabilities reported by French et al. were summarized from a wide variety of studies.

In order to measure of subjects' perceptions of museum demand characteristics

(MDC) was constructed which was composed of a five item Likert scale test (Appendix

B). Items on the test were generated to examine; subjects' motivation to visit a

museum, subjects' perceptions of the difficulty of learning from museums, and

subjects' perceived self-efficacy in regard to learning from museums. Items on the test

were generated in light research which examined the relationship between visitor

perceptions and achievement (Salomon, 1983, 1984). Reliability of the instrument

was determined via a split-half method. The 10-item test was given to 230 college

undergraduates. The reliability of the museum demand characteristics measure, based

on the Spearman Brown prophecy was .76

One other Likert scale item was administered along with the MDC instrument.

Subjects were asked to rate how much fun they believed museums to be, relative to

reading a text, on a one to five scale. A semantic differential item was administered

where subjects rated their preferences to working on tasks that they set for themselves

versus tasks set for them (Appendix B).

A 37-item achievement test was given to all subjects following completion of

assigned treatment (Appendix C). All items were generated from a pool of questions

composed by four graduate students in the Zoology Department and the College of

Education. Two other graduate students determined the content validity of the 37 item








test. Twenty- nine of the items within the test were questions at the knowledge and

comprehension levels of learning. Discriminative validity of the recognition and

comprehension questions had been determined in a pilot study that compared

achievement of subjects who had viewed the 11 exhibits with individuals who did not

view the exhibits. Individuals who viewed the exhibits scored significantly higher than

individuals who did not view the exhibits. The remaining eight questions called for

synthesis and application of the information presented in the museum exhibits. Correct

answers for all questions were determined and all tests were scored based on these

answers. No partial credit was given. Reliabilities of the achievement tests were carried

out using Cronbach's alpha. A summary of the reliability measures for the Museum

Demand Characteristics Test and the Knowledge Posttests is provided in Table (3-1).


General Procedure


Subjects were recruited from students enrolled in courses in the College of

Education, Spring semester 1989. Prior to recruitment, all individuals in a given class

filled out the split-half test form addressing perceptions of museums. Individuals were

then asked to participate in a study of exhibit design, and subjects signed up on a

volunteer basis. Subjects were not aware of which exhibits had been incorporated into

the study, experimental treatments, or the fact that they would be tested on exhibit

content following completion of the treatment.

Upon arrival at the museum, subjects were escorted to the exhibits and given

verbal instructions which varied dependent upon treatment. The researcher or assistant

then moved away from the exhibits to a desk, yet kept the subject in viewing distance

with the subject's back to the researcher. A stopwatch was used to determine the

amount of time each subject spent in front of the exhibits.








Upon completion of the task, each subject was given a test of museum demand

characteristics, asked to rate the perceived difficulty of the assigned task and the amount

of effort they put into the assigned task, and given the test covering the exhibit content.

Tests of verbal fluency, associative memory and the hidden figures test were given at

the subjects' convenience as these aptitudes were not expected to change as a result of

experimental treatments.


Statistical Analyses

All analyses of main effects, treatment effects and aptitude treatment interactions

were carried out using multiple regression analysis. When examining treatment effects

and interactions between aptitudes and treatments, slopes describing the relationship

between predictor variables and outcome variables were compared. The effect of the

treatment on subjects' perceptions of museums as fun was analyzed with Student's t-

tests. All analyses were tested at the .05 level.


Table 3-1
Reliability of Museum Demand Characteristics Test and Achievement Tests



Test Method Reliability


Museum Demand Spearman Brown Prophecy .76
Characteristics

Total Test Coefficient Alpha .80

High Level Subtest Coefficient Alpha .55

Low Level Subtest Coefficient Alpha .79














CHAPTER 4
RESULTS


Research Ouestions


It will be remembered that the hypotheses to be tested in this study were:

1. There a positive relationship between museum demand characteristics

(MDC) and effort invested in learning from museum exhibits and between MDC and

achievement, for all treatment groups, except for subjects who read a transcript of

exhibit content.

2. There is a positive relationship between effort and achievement for all

treatment groups.

3. There is a positive relationship between MDC and time spent on task for all

treatment groups, except for subjects who read a transcript of exhibit content.

4. There is a positive relationship between time on task and achievement for all

treatment groups.

5. Perceived task difficulty will vary as a function of treatment and there will be

a positive relationship between perceived task difficulty and effort and perceived task

difficulty and time on task.

6. There will be no significant difference between treatment group scores on

the knowledge and comprehension portion of the achievement test.

7. Subjects who read a transcript of the exhibits' content will score

significantly higher on a subtest composed of application, synthesis and analysis

questions than subjects who view an exhibit or are instructed to write down one

interesting thing from each exhibit or write down the main point.








8. Treatment will interact with subject aptitudes (verbal fluency,

associative memory, hidden figures test score, and task preference), when

examining achievement outcomes.


Variables

Data were collected for all subjects on measures of museum demand

characteristics (MDC), verbal fluency, associative memory, hidden figures test (HFT),

and task preference. Descriptive statistics for these variables are reported in Table 4-1.

Correlations between scores on the verbal fluency, associative memory and hidden

figures test are reported in Table 4-2.

Scores were obtained for all subjects on an achievement posttest composed of

38 questions (total test score). As encoding instructions have been demonstrated to

significantly affect subjects' ability to answer questions with different processing

demands, the scores were subsequently divided into one score for 29 recall and

recognition items (low level subtest) and another score for 8 synthesis, application and

analysis items (high level subtest). Additionally, the length of time that students spent

in the vicinity of each exhibit was recorded, and subject self-reports of invested effort,

perceived difficulty of task, and posttreatment museum demand characteristics were

measured before the criterion test was taken. The within treatment group means and

standard deviations for these variables are reported in Table 4-3.

Descriptive statistics for subjects' perceptions of museums as fun are reported

in Table 4-4. When examined for within group changes, only the look treatment group

showed any significant change. Subjects in the look treatment group showed an

increase in the degree to which museums were perceived as fun (R<.05, T-test).

General and multiple linear regressions were used to examine relationships

between all outcome variables and aptitudes. Predictor variables incorporated into the

analyses included; scores on all aptitude tests, museum demand characteristics (MDC),









time spent on task, subject report of effort expended on task, and task preference.

Outcome variables included time on task, posttreatment museum demand

characteristics, effort expended, perceived difficulty of task assigned, total score on

achievement test, and score on low level and high level subtests. R-squared values for

all analyses are found in Appendix D.

Table 4-1
Aptitude Data


Treatment

LookInterest Main point Text

Aptitude Mean SD Mean SD Mean SD Mean SD


MDC 12.5 3.6 11.8 2.8 12.2 3.3 12.5 3.6
n=42 n=43 n=36 n=33

Task 9.2 3.3 9.6 3.2 9.8 4.0 8.8 3.5
Preference n=46 n=45 n=38 n=36

Hidden 11.1 6.9 12.8 6.9 14.1 6.2 13.4 7.2
Figures Test n=45 n=45 n=38 n=35

Verbal 22.4 6.5 23.8 6.7 24.9 8.3 25.8 8.2
Fluency n=46 n=45 n=38 n=35

Associative 19.6 6.9 20.4 6.9 18.4 7.0 19.7 6.5
Memory n=45 n=45 n=38 n=35







Table 4-2
Correlations between Hidden Figures Test (HFT).
Fluency, and Total Test Score


Test Hidden Figures Associative Verbal Fluency Total Test Score
Test Memory

HFT 1.00 -0.02 0.26 0.41
(p) 0.00 0.77 0.0005 0.0001
Associative Memory 1.00 0.26 0.14
(p) 0.00 0.001 0.07
Verbal Fluency 1.00 0.45
(p) 0.00 0.001
Total Test Score 1.00
(p) 0.00


Asoc atve Mmor, eva


i i V b l








Table 4-3
Outcome Data


Variable


Time


Total Test
Score

High Level
Subtest

Low Level
Subtest Score

Task
Difficulty

Effort


Posttreatment
MDC


Look

Mean SD


22.9 9.6
n=46

25.5 8.4
n=47

10.3 4.4
n=47

15.3 5.6
n =47

2.5 0.9
n=47

2.9 0.9
n=47

14.0 4.0
n=46


Treatment

Interest

Mean SD


37.7 12.5
n=45

26.1 9.9
n=45

10.6 4.3
n=45

15.8 5.8
n=45

2.5 0.9
n =45

3.0 0.9
n=45

13.2 3.5
n=44


Main point

Mean SD


53.0 15.6
n=38

27.8 8.7
n=39

9.5 4.2
n=39

18.0 5.9
n=39

2.7 0.9
n=39

3.1 1.0
n=39

13.4 4.4
n=39


Text

Mean SD


25.5 6.2
n=36

25.3 9.0
n=36

9.5 4.0
n=36

15.8 6.1
n = 36

2.7 0.9
n= 36

3.3 1.0
n=36

13.0 3.2
n=36


--


--


Table 4-3
Outcome Data








Table 4-4
Means and Standard Deviations for Subject Self Report of Museums as Fun


Treatment Before Treatment Score After Treatment Score
Mean SD Mean SD


Look 1.5 0.7 1.8 1.0
n=41 n=46

Interest 1.5 0.6 1.7 0.7
n=42 n=44

Main point 1.5 0.6 1.7 0.7
n=36 n=37

Text 1.7 0.8 1.7 0.7
n = 32 n= 35



Subject Report of Effort Expended on Task


The following hypotheses were of major concern regarding subjects' perceived

museum demand characteristics and amount of invested mental effort:

1. There will be a positive relationship between museum demand characteristics

and effort for all treatment groups that view the exhibits.

2. There will be no relationship between museum demand characteristics and

effort for the text treatment group.


All subjects' perceived museum demand characteristics (MDC) were measured

using a five item, Likert scale instrument. Score increases on the instrument were

related to increasing perceptions of museums as demanding. Effort was rated on a 1 to

5 scale. A report of 1 was related to little investment of effort and 5 was related to a

great deal of effort invested.

There was a significant negative relationship between museum demand

characteristics and effort expended on task, F(7,141)=3.45, p <.005. As noted in

Table G-l, there were two significant interactions, MDC X text (t = 2.375, p <.0189)








and MDC X interest, (t = 1.997, p < .0477). The interaction between treatment and

museum demand characteristics in regard to invested effort is represented in Figure 4-1.

The relationship between museum demand characteristics and invested effort

was negative for all treatment groups. However, the relationship between museum

demand characteristics and invested effort approached zero for the text and interest

treatment groups. There was a significant difference between the look treatment group

and the text and interest groups (p > .05). As subjects' in the look and main point

treatments perceptions of museums as difficult increased, they invested decreasing

amounts of effort. There was no significant difference between the look and main point

treatment groups (p > .05). There was no significant difference between the text and

interest treatment groups. (p > .05). Nor was there any significant difference between

the main point, interest and text treatment groups (p > .05). Slopes and intercepts for

the interaction between museum demand characteristics and invested effort appear in

Table 4-5


Table 4-5
Descriptive Statistics for Museum Demand Characteristics X Treatment Interactions for
Subject Self Report of Invested Effort


Treatment Intercept Slope


Look 4.67 -.14

Interest 3.12 -.01

Main point 4.30 -.10

Text 3.43 -.004





43






5 -



4-

-9 Look
o 3 Interest
1 -0- Main point
--- Text

2-




0 10 20 30

Museum Demand Characteristics


Figure 4-1. The interaction between museum demand characteristics and treatment on
subject report of effort expended on task.



Time on Task


The following hypotheses were of major concern regarding time on task:

1. There will be a positive relationship between museum demand characteristics

and time on task for all treatment groups that view the exhibits.

2. There will be no relationship between museum demand characteristics and

time on task for the text treatment group.


Mean times spent on task for look, interest, main point, and text treatment

groups were 22.9, 37.7, 53.0, and 25.5 minutes, respectively. Subjects in the interest

and main point groups spent significantly more time on task than did subjects in the

look group (t = 11.057, p < .0001) and (t = 5.407, p < .0001). There was no









significant difference in the mean amount of time spent on task between look and text

treatment groups (t = 0.930, p > .3537). The mean amount of time spent on task by

subjects in the main point treatment group was significantly greater than all the mean

time spent on task by all other treatment groups (p < .0001). Summary statistics are

found in Table F-1.

A significant interaction between subject report of effort invested and treatment

as it related to time on task was noted for the main point treatment group (t = 2.090, <

.0382) The interaction is represented in Figure 4-2. Summary statistics are found in

Table G-2. There was no significant relationship between effort invested and time

spent on task for look, text, and interest treatment groups. Slopes and intercepts

describing the relationship between effort invested and time spent on task are presented

in Table 4-6.



70


60-


i 50 Look
S- Interest
4Q0 0 Main point
40-
E Text

30


20
0 1 2 3 4 5 6

Effort

Figure 4-2. The interaction between effort and treatment on time spent on task.







Table 4-6
Descriptive Statistics for Effort X Treatment Interactions for Time Spent on Task


Treatment Intercept Slope


Look 25.2 -.71

Interest 26.6 -.10

Main point 38.6 4.83

Text 28.5 -.93




Subject Report of Task Difficulty


The following hypotheses were of importance in regard to subjects' perceptions

of task difficulty:

1. There will be no significant difference between perceived task difficulty as a

function of treatment.

2. Subjects who perceive their task as difficult will invest more mental effort,

and spend more time on task.


All subjects were asked to rate the difficulty of their assigned task on a 1 to 5

scale where 1 was very difficult and 5 was very easy. There were no significant

treatment effects (1 > .05). Controlling for the effect of any aptitude variable still did

not result in any significant treatment effect (p > .05).

There was a significant positive relationship between perceived museum

demand characteristics and perceptions of task difficulty, F (1, 146) = 6.27, 1 < .01.

Slopes and intercepts are found in Table 4-7. Summary statistics are presented in

Tables E-l.

Time on task was positively related to subjects' reports of task difficulty for the

look treatment group (t = 2.08, p < .0388) Significant interactions were noted between








time spent on task and treatment when examining subject reports of task difficulty for

the main point and interest treatment groups (t = -3.05, p< .0027 and t = 2.24, p <

.0364, respectively). The relationship between time on task and subject report of task

difficulty is represented in Figure 4-3. Summary statistics are presented in Table G-3.

The relationship between time on task and subject report of task difficulty was

significant for all treatment groups (p < .05). However, the direction of the

relationship varied with treatment. There was a positive relationship between time on

task and perceived task difficulty for the look and text treatment groups. There was no

significant difference between these two treatments (t = 0.04, p > .05). There was a

negative relationship between time on task and perceived task difficulty for the interest

and main point treatment groups. There was no significant difference between these

two treatments (t = 0.6776, p > .05). Slopes and intercepts for the interaction between

time on task and perceived task difficulty are presented in Table 4-8.


Table 4-7
Summary of Main Effects


Outcome Variable Predictor Variable Intercept Slope


Task Difficulty MDC 1.9 .06

Total Test Score Verbal Fluency 14.1 .52

Total Test Score Associative Memory 21.7 .25

Total Test Score Hidden Figures Test 21.4 .41

Total Test Score Time on Task 21.8 .13

High Level Subtest Hidden Figures Test 11.4 3.1

High Level Subtest Verbal Fluency 6.2 2.8

High Level Subtest Task Preference 12.1 -.19

Low Level Subtest Time 12.0 4.5






47








4 -






S0 Look
Interest
a- Text
S----- Mainpoint
2






0 20 40 60 80 100

Time on Task (minutes)


Figure 4-3. Interaction between time on task and treatment on perceived task difficulty.








Table 4-8
Descriptive Statistics for Time on Task X Treatment Interactions Regarding Perceived
Task Difficulty


Treatment Intercept Slope


Look 1.8 .03

Interest 2.9 -.01

Main point 3.8 -.02

Text 1.9 .03


There was a significant negative relationship between subject report of effort

expended on task and posttreatment museum demand characteristics for the look

treatment group (t = -3.683, p < .0003). There was no significant difference in slopes

describing the relationship between effort expended on task and posttreatment museum

demand characteristics for the look and main point treatment groups (t = 0.980, P >

.3287). Two significant interactions were noted Effort X text and Effort X interest (t =

2.557, p <.0115 and t = 2.549, p < .0118, respectively). The interaction between

effort and treatment on posttreatment museum demand characteristics is represented in

Figure 4-4. Summary statistics are presented in Table G-4. For both the text and

interest treatment groups, there was a significant positive relationship between effort

and posttreatment museum demand characteristics for the interest and text treatment

groups. These two treatments were not significantly different from each other

(t = .0004, p > .05). As subjects in the interest and text treatment groups invested

more effort, their perceptions of museums as difficult decreased. Slopes and intercepts

for the interaction between effort invested and treatment as it relates to posttreatment

museum demand characteristics are reported in Table 4-9.


rTUL LICUL111U1L IVIUvIUI UCI-nIIcU -ilaaL3cii3Lia








The relationship between museum demand characteristics and posttreatment

museum demand characteristics was positive for all treatment groups, E(7, 139) =

11.4, p < .05. However, a significant interaction was noted between the text treatment

group and pretreatment museum demand characteristics (t = -1.93, P <.0552). This

interaction is represented in Figure 4-5. Summary statistics are reported in Table G-5.

None of the slopes describing the relationship between pre- and posttreatment museum

demand characteristics were greater than one. Thus, for all treatment groups there was

a decrease in perceived difficulty of museums after treatment. The slope which

describes the relationship between pre- and posttreatment museum demand

characteristics for the text treatment was significantly less than the slope for all other

treatments (p < .05). There was, however, no significant difference between slopes of

the lines that describe the relationship between pre- and posttreatment museum demand

characteristics for any of the other three treatment groups (2 > .05). Summary statistics

are reported in Table 4-9.












20


18


M 16

Look
14 -- interest
S--0- Main point
S- Text
12

10




0 1 2 3 4 5 6

Effort


Figure 4-4. The interaction between effort and treatment on posttreatment museum
demand characteristics (MDC).












20

18

16

14 Look
S- Interest
E
12 *-- Main point
6 Text
10




6
0 10 20

Pretreatment MDC


Fioure 4-5. The interaction between pretreatment museum demand characteristics
(MDC) and treatment on posttreatment museum demand characteristics (MDC).







Table 4-9
Descriptive Statistics for Aptitude X Treatment Interactions regarding Posttreatment
Museum Demand Characteristics


Treatment Intercept Slope


Interacting Variable = Subject Self Report of Effort

Look 20.42 -2.2

Interest 12.83 .02

Main point 17.76 -1.4

Text 12.66 .04


Interacting Variable = Pretreatment Museum Demand Characteristic

Look 5.11 .70

Interest 3.58 .78

Main point 4.03 .77

Text 8.77 .32





Total Test Score

The following hypotheses were of importance regarding the total test score:

1. There is a positive relationship between museum demand characteristics and

total test score, except for the text treatment group..

2. There will be a positive relationship between effort and total test score.

3. There is a positive relationship between time on task and total test

score for all treatment groups.

4. There will be an interaction between treatment and scores on the

associative memory test, hidden figures test score, verbal fluency, and task

preference regarding high level subtest.








There was no main effect of museum demand characteristics or effort regarding

total test score ( > .05). There was no significant interaction between museum

demand characteristics and total test score (p > .05). The score on the new total test

was significantly and positively related to the subjects scores on the tests of verbal

fluency, (1, 147) = 2.251, p < .0005, associative memory, E(1, 147) = 2.251, p <

.05, hidden figures test score, F(1, 147) = 2.251, p < .0005, and time on task, E(1,

147) = 2.251, p <.005. Slopes and intercepts are presented in Table 4-7. Summary

statistics are presented in Tables E-2, E-3, E-4, and E-5. There were no significant

effects of treatment, no significant effect of treatment when controlling for aptitude

variables and no significant aptitude treatment interactions (p > .05). When the effects

of verbal fluency, hidden figures test score, and associative memory were controlled

for simultaneously; only verbal fluency and hidden figures test score accounted for a

significant portion of the total variance in total test score (p < .05). Summary statistics

for this model are presented in Table E-6.


Scores on the High Level Subtest

The reader will recall that the high level subtest was composed of nine questions

calling for synthesis, analysis and application of information. The following

hypotheses were of importance in regard to the high level processing subtest:

1. There will be positive relationship between museum demand

characteristics and high level subtest score for all treatment groups except the text

treatment group.

2. Subjects in the text treatment will score significantly higher than all

other treatment groups on the high level subtest.

3. There is a positive relationship between time on task and high level

subtest score for all treatment groups.








4 There will be an interaction between treatment and scores on the associative

memory test, hidden figures test score, verbal fluency, and task preference regarding

high level subtest.

There was a significant positive relationship between high level subtest and

scores on the test of hidden figures, F(1, 147) = 10.20, p < .005. There was also a

significant positive relationship between verbal fluency and high level subtest score,

E(1,146) = 7.854, p <.0058. There was a significant negative relationship between

high level subtest and task preference, E(1, 147) = 10.20, p < .005. Slopes and

intercepts are presented in Table 4-7. Summary statistics are presented in Tables E-7,

E-8, and E-9. When the effects of verbal fluency, hidden figures test score, and

associative memory were controlled for simultaneously; only hidden figures test score

accounted for a significant portion of the total variance in total test score (1 < .05).

Summary statistics for this model are presented in Table E-10.

Scores on the Low Level Subtest


The reader will recall that the low level subtest was composed of 29 items

calling for the recall and recognition of exhibit content. The following hypotheses were

of importance in the consideration of scores on the low level processing subtest:

1. There will be positive relationship between museum demand

characteristics and low level subtest score for all treatment groups except the text

treatment group.

2. There is a positive relationship between effort and low level subtest

score for all treatment groups.

3. There is a positive relationship between time on task and low level subtest

score for all treatment groups.

4. There will be no significant difference between treatment group scores on

the low level subtest.








5. There will be an interaction between treatment and scores on the

associative memory test, task preference, hidden figures test score, and verbal

fluency in predicting low level subtest score.


There was a significant positive relationship between time on task and

score on the low level subtest F(1, 164) = 20.0181, p < .0001. Summary statistics are

found in Table E-11.

There was a significant treatment effect for low level subtest score, E(3, 145) =

2.682, p < .05). Mean low level subtest scores for the look, main point, interest and

text treatment groups were 15.23, 18.71, 15.93, 15.93, respectively. Subjects who

were in the main point treatment group scored significantly higher than all other groups

(t =.0107,p < .05). There was no significant difference between the scores of subjects

in the look, interest and text treatment groups (p > .05). Summary statistics are

reported in Table F-2.

There were significant positive relationships between low level subtest score

and verbal fluency, F(4, 144) = 13.405, p < .0001), and associative memory, E(4,

144) = 3.494, p <.01), and hidden figures test score, E(4, 144) = 3.530, p <.01).

The relationships between low level subtest score and verbal fluency, associative

memory,and hidden figures test score were all positive. When controlling for verbal

fluency, associative memory, or hidden figures test score subjects in the main point

treatment group scored significantly higher than all other treatment groups, with no

significant difference noted between the text, look, and interest treatment groups. The

relationship between treatment and low level subtest scores controlling for verbal

fluency is represented in Figure 4-6. Slopes and intercepts for treatment effects

controlling for verbal fluency, associative memory, and test of hidden figures are

presented in Table 4-10. Summary statistics are presented in Tables F-3, F-4, and F-5.















30 -



00
C,
20 -
S--- Look

.i- Interest
--- Main point
Text
, 10
-j


-J


0 10 20 30 40 50

Verbal Fluency


Figure 4-6 The effect of treatment on low level subtest after controlling for verbal
fluency.







Table 4-10
Descriptive Statistics for Treatment Effects regarding Low Level Subtest Score


Treatment Intercept Slope


Controlled Variable = Verbal Fluency

Look 6.8 .38

Interest 6.8 .38

Main point 8.9 .38

Text 6.0 .38


Controlled Variable = Associative Memory

Look 11.0 .17

Interest 11.4 .17

Main point 14.6 .17

Text 11.6 .17


Controlled Variable =Score on the Hidden Figures Test

Look 13.3 .18

Interest 13.6 .18

Main point 15.9 .18

Text 13.4 .18




There was a significant negative relationship subject task preference and scores

on the low level subtest of the achievement test for the main point treatment group (t = -

2.265, p < .0249). As subjects' preference to work on tasks set by themselves

increased, scores on the low level subtest decreased. There was no significant

relationship between task preference and score on the low level subtest score for any

other treatment group. The interaction between task preference and treatment in regard









to low level subtest score is represented in Figure 4-7. Summary statistics are reported

in Table G-6. Slopes and intercepts for the interaction between task preference and

treatment as it relates to low level subtest score are reported in Table 4-11.


Look
--- Interest
0- Main point
--- Text


12 1 ---- i ---------- ---- I
0 10 2

Task Preference


Figure 4-7. The interaction between task preference and treatment on low level subtest



Table 4-11
Descriptive Statistics for Aptitude X Treatment Interactions for Low Level Subtest Test
Score


Treatment Intercept Slope


Interacting Variable = Task Preference

Look 12.6 .26

Interest 16.0 -.005

Main point 23.7 -.54

Text 16.2 -.04









Summary of Results


In conclusion, the data can be summarized by the following:

1. There was a significant negative relationship between subjects' perceived

demand characteristics of museums and effort for the main point and look treatment

groups. There was no relationship between subjects' perceived demand characteristics

of museums and effort for the text and interest treatment groups.

2. There was no relationship between effort invested in learning and time on

task for any treatment group except the main point treatment group. There was a

positive relationship between effort invested and time on task for the main point

treatment group

3. As subjects in the main point and interest treatment group spent increasing

amounts of time on task, subject report of task difficulty decreased. As subjects in the

text and look treatment groups spent more time on task, subject report of task difficulty

increased.

4. As subjects spent more time on task, posttreatment reports of perceived

museum demand characteristics decreased.

5. As subjects in the look and main point treatment group invested more effort

in learning, their posttreatment perceived museum demand characteristics decreased.

6. Subjects in the main point treatment group scored significantly higher on the

low level subtest relative to any treatment group.

7. Total test score was positively related to verbal fluency, associative memory,

hidden figures test score, and time on task for all treatment groups.

8. A multiple regression model that controlled for verbal fluency score on the

hidden figures test, and associative memory indicated that associative memory did not

account for a significant amount of the variance in total test score, and high level subtest

scores.





60


9. There was no significant difference between treatment group scores on the

high level subtest.

10. High level subtest was significantly related to scores on the hidden figures

test and verbal fluency, and negatively related to task preference.

11. Low level subtest score was positively related to verbal fluency, score on

the hidden figures test, associative memory, and time on task.

12. As subjects in the main point treatment group increasingly preferred to

work on tasks that they set for themselves, their score on the low level subtest

decreased. There was no relationship between task preference and low level subtest

score for the look, interest, and text treatment groups.














CHAPTER 5
DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSION


Perceived Museum Demand Characteristics. Effort and Time on Task


This research project was carried out, in part, to examine the relationship

between how difficult individuals perceive learning from museum exhibits to be and the

amount of effort invested in learning and to investigate how this interrelationship affects

achievement. Salomon (1983) hypothesized that as the perceived demand characteristics

of an information source increased, the learner would invest more mental effort and

subsequently learn more. The work upon which Salomon supports his theory has been

limited to settings in which the learner has no choice of stimuli or amount of time to

spend on a task. In such a highly controlled setting, learner perceptions of the media

may explain the variance in achievement better than cognitive variables and variables

which describe the nature of the stimuli. However, based on results from this study, it

could be suggested that with decreasing amounts of structure, the role of learner

perceptions may decrease in importance. Success or failure, when examining learning

in informal settings seems to be more a function of learner cognitive abilities, task

preference, and the nature of the tasks to be performed than learner perceptions

regarding the media.

A positive relationship between perceived difficulty and effort expended in

learning is a crucial point in Salomon's exploration of differential investment of mental

effort in learning from different instructional sources. Contrary to what would be

predicted based on Salomon's (1983) theory, in this study, relationships between

perceived demand characteristics and effort invested in learning were functionally








nonexistent or negative. Individuals in the look and main point treatment groups

invested a greater amount of effort when museums were perceived as easy. There was

no relationship between perceived museum demand characteristics and effort for

individuals in the interest and text treatment groups.

Informal learning centers are characterized as being free choice environments.

Visitors at these centers are not required to closely examine each exhibit. Instead,

visitors choose which exhibits they wish to attend to and the amount of effort they wish

to invest. The relationship between perceived museum demand characteristics and

effort, reported in this study, may be a function of motivating factors which lead

visitors to attend to and learn from specific exhibits. Researchers exploring learning in

informal settings have noted that one key distinction between learning in formal and

informal settings is that individuals are internally motivated to learn in an informal

setting. In contrast, subjects involved in research carried out to investigate the

relationship between learner perceptions, AIME and learning, may have been provided

with some external motivation to learn.

In an informal setting, an internally motivated individual may actively choose

not to attend to an exhibit. This decision may not necessarily be based on the perceived

demand characteristics of museums but could be based on the degree to which it

interested the individual. Shirey and Reynolds (1988) noted that in the absence of

specific externally set tasks, readers tend to focus on information that they find

interesting. Koran et al. (1989), found that there was a significant positive relationship

between how interesting subjects found a particular exhibit to be and viewing time. If,

after scanning the exhibit, subjects are not interested, they will not be motivated to

learn, and mental effort will not be expended on the particular exhibit, regardless of

perceived demand characteristics of museums. Instead, they will continue to the next

exhibit where the sequence will again be initiated. If a particular exhibit is found to be








interesting and the visitor is motivated to learn, then mental effort will be invested based

on perceived museum demand characteristics.

When individuals choose to attend to an exhibit, the amount of effort required to

comprehend the exhibit information may come into conflict with the motivating factors

that bring visitors to informal learning centers. Recreation, relaxation, and

entertainment are frequently cited as the main reasons for people visiting an informal

learning center. Having to invest too much effort for learning may impinge upon these

goals. Thus, it could be hypothesized that visitors arriving at informal learning centers

have an a priori amount of effort that they are willing to expend on learning.

Encountering an exhibit that is perceived as demanding would not necessarily result in

increased amounts of effort being invested. Instead, the visitor may invest the

predetermined amount of effort or bypass the exhibit. Once bypassed, the visitor will

continue to search for exhibits where the effort required for comprehension matches the

amount of effort they wish to invest. Exhibit characteristics such as labels with either a

large number of words or fine print may imply a high level of difficulty thereby

affecting the likelihood that the exhibit will be attended to by visitors.

If visitors arrive with an a priori amount of effort that they are willing to expend

on learning, there is no reason to predict any relationship between perceived demand

characteristics of museums and effort. The effect of visitors' unwillingness to invest

more than a predetermined amount of effort on the relationship between perceived

demand characteristics of museums may be compounded by Shirey and Reynolds'

(1988) findings. They noted that readers invested less effort when learning things they

believed to be interesting. Thus, visitors attending to exhibits that they find interesting

are choosing to attend to exhibits that take less effort to comprehend. This finding

would also imply that a limit is being placed on the amount of effort invested, since

exhibits felt to be uninteresting would also be the exhibits from which learning is

believed to be effortful. It is these effortful, uninteresting exhibits to which visitors fail








to attend. It could be hypothesized that a visitor in an informal learning setting would

invest effort independent of the overall perceived museum demand characteristics but

on an exhibit by exhibit basis.

An individual, in a free choice setting, whose desire to learn is internally

motivated, arrives with a predetermined amount of effort that he/she is willing to invest.

In the absence of external motivation, there is no reason to predict a relationship

between perceived museum demand characteristics and learning. The failure to note a

significant relationship between perceived museum demand characteristics and effort

for the interest treatment group supports the hypothesis regarding the relationship

between perceived demand characteristics of museums and invested effort. Subjects in

the interest treatment group were given instructions to write down something interesting

they noticed about each exhibit. As this task did not call for effortful behavior, the

invested effort was independent of their perceived demand characteristics of museums.

However, subjects in the main point and look treatment groups showed a

negative relationship between perceived demand characteristics of museums and

invested effort. For all treatment groups, as subjects' perceived demand characteristics

increased, the perceived difficulty of their tasks increased. In the absence of external

motivation, subjects may be unwilling to invest effort in tasks that are believed to be

difficult. Thus, subjects in treatment groups which did not allow the visitor to focus

exclusively on information deemed interesting, invested a decreasing amount of effort

as perceived demand characteristics of museums increased.

If visitors are placing a limit on the amount of effort they are willing to invest in

learning from museum exhibits, then perceived demand characteristics of museums

would have a much smaller influence on achievement than predicted by Salomon

(1984). In this study, perceived demand characteristics of museums were only

significantly and positively related to subjects' perceptions of task difficulty and

subjects' posttreatment museum demand characteristics. Perceived demand








characteristics of museums were neither directly nor indirectly positively related to

learning.

Salomon (1983) also stated that increasing the amount of invested mental effort

results in greater learning. No significant relationship was noted between effort and

learning in this study. As Shirey and Reynolds (1988) equated increased effort with

increased time on task, the relationship between effort and time on task was

investigated in this study. A significant positive relationship between invested effort

and time spent on task was noted only for subjects in the main point treatment group.

For all other treatment groups, the amount of time spent on task did not change with

increasing invested effort. The interaction between treatment and invested effort, in

regard to time on task, may be a function of the criteria an individual uses when

deciding which exhibits will be attended to and for how long.

Shirey and Reynolds (1988) noted that adult learners better learned interesting

information without any extra expenditure of effort, and that more time was spent when

information was viewed as less interesting. However, in informal learning centers,

visitors have been found to devote increasing amounts of time to exhibits as their

interest level increases (Koran, Foster & Koran, 1989). Thus, it could be hypothesized

that in museum settings, visitors are spending more time attending to exhibits which

place lower demands on effort investment. Subjects in the look, interest, and text

treatment groups, in the absence of specific instructions to attend to the components of

the exhibit and determine the main points of the exhibit or text, would be more likely to

spend time on items or objects that they found interesting. Mean effort invested by

these subjects, in dealing with a series of exhibits, would not be a reliable predictor of

time spent on task. One possible explanation could be that subjects who were given

specific instructions to attend to all of the exhibit components and to determine the main

points of the exhibit spent more time on exhibits that they did not perceive as interesting








and which demanded a greater amount of invested effort. In such case, a positive

relationship between time and effort would be expected.

The functional significance of the relationship between subjects' report of

invested effort and time on task appears questionable. Firstly, there was no direct

relationship between effort expended and any achievement measure. Secondly, time on

task was not significantly related to high level subtest score. Thirdly, when comparing

scores, subjects in the main point treatment group did not score significantly different

on the low level subtest than did subjects in any other treatment group.. Although

increased effort resulted in increased time on task for the main point treatment group,

when examining achievement as a function of time on task, the mean score for the main

point treatment group was not significantly different from any other treatment group. If

subjects in the main point treatment group had invested significantly more effort in

learning from the museum exhibits than subjects in any other group who spent a similar

amount of time on task, one would expect, that they would have scored significantly

higher than subjects in other treatment groups. This assumption is based on

Salomon's (1984) hypothesis concerning the relationship between effort and

achievement.

In summary, findings from this study concerning perceived demand

characteristics of a learning source, subject report of effort expended on task and

perceived difficulty of the task would not support Salomon's AIME theory concerning

learning. The failure to note a positive relationship between perceived demand

characteristics, effort expended and achievement may be due to the differences between

learning in formal and informal settings. The free choice nature of an informal learning

setting, combined with the effects of visitor motivation and interests, radically affects

the relationship between perceived demand characteristics, invested mental effort and

learning.







Effect of Instructions

Researchers examining the effect of instructions on achievement have noted that

instructions to summarize text or lecture material at periodic intervals have resulted in a

decreased ability to successfully answer questions calling for synthesis, application and

analysis. However, in regard to the ability to successfully answer questions that call

for recall and recognition of information, it has been noted that all study methods that

require some amount of attention be given to the material may be equally effective,

especially in situations where individuals spend the same time, studying the same

material (Annis, 1985). In light of these findings, it was hypothesized that there would

be no significant treatment effect in regard to the low level subtest scores and that

subjects in the main point treatment group would score significantly lower on the high

level subtest.

No significant difference was expected between treatment group scores on the

subtest of recall and recognition questions (low level subtest); however, a significant

treatment effect was found to exist. Subjects in the main point treatment group scored

significantly higher than all other treatment groups on the low level subtest. The same

trend was noted when controlling for the effect of verbal fluency, associative memory,

and scores on the test of hidden figures. It was predicted, based on learning from text,

that subjects in this study would perform equally well on the low level subtest

independent of treatment. This prediction was based on the assumption that all subjects

were paying some amount of attention to the material.

However, in informal settings one cannot be sure that attention is being paid to

material relevant to the learning goals of the exhibit. In this study, subjects in the look,

interest, and text treatment groups were given instructions that did not encourage them

to exclude irrelevant information contained in the exhibits or exhibit transcripts. In

contrast, subjects in the main point treatment group were given instructions which

specifically called for them to read the text of the exhibit, examine the objects and make








judgments concerning the relative importance of statements within exhibit labels. In

carrying out this task, all of the information drawn upon to create the recall and

recognition questions would have been encountered. For all other treatment groups,

the absence of externally set task demands may have created a learning environment

where subjects imposed the goal of entertainment and focused on the rich visual nature

of the learning media. Therefore, subjects that are given the externally set goal of

finding the main point of each exhibit could have been predicted to score higher on the

low level processing subtest.

The absence of any treatment effect on the ability to successfully answer recall

and recognition questions, as noted in Annis (1985), may have been due to the fact that

all subjects were aware of a posttest. The external motivation provided by knowledge

of a posttest has been demonstrated to positively affect achievement (Fire, 1985).

When subjects are unaware of a posttest, differences in learning from text, as a result of

instructions to take notes versus read only, are similar to the treatment effects found in

this study regarding scores on the low level subtest. Glover et al. (1981) found, when

comparing subjects' ability to recall idea units from a text, that subjects who were

instructed to paraphrase each paragraph of text recalled a significantly greater number of

idea units when compared to individuals who simply read the text. Subjects' recall of

idea units is comparable to answering questions which call for knowledge and

comprehension of exhibit material.

Subjects in the main point treatment group were predicted to score significantly

lower on the high level subtest than all other treatment groups. This prediction was

based on findings by Annis (1985). Annis found, when comparing the performance of

students who read only, wrote down notes in their typical manner, and students who

wrote paragraph summaries, that subjects in the paragraph summary treatment group

scored significantly lower on synthesis and evaluation questions. Annis suggested that

the time constraint of reading and then summarizing material left subjects with little time








or motivation to relate new material to existing schemata. In contrast, individuals who

took notes when they wished or read only, evenly divided their time and effort between

paying attention, encoding, and association.

In this study, however, when scores on the high level subtest were compared,

no significant difference were noted between treatments. Without the knowledge of an

impending posttest, it would appear that subjects in the text, interest, and look treatment

groups did not expend the effort needed to integrate information across exhibits.

Subjects in the main point treatment group, having invested time and effort in reading

the exhibits and summarizing the main points, may have opted not to invest further time

and effort to integrate information across exhibits. Given the possible unwillingness of

subjects to invest effort in exhibit content integration, one would not predict any

significant difference between treatment groups regarding scores on the high level

subtest.

Aptitude Treatment Interactions

The reader will recall that verbal fluency, associative memory, hidden figures

test score, and task preference were hypothesized to interact with treatment when

examining the low and high level subtests. In this study, no interaction was found to

exist between treatment and associative memory in regard to either the low or high level

subtest. Instead, this researcher only noted a positive relationship between associative

memory and total test score and low level subtest score. Associative memory did not

account for a significant amount of the variance in test scores on both the high and low

level subtests when controlling for verbal fluency, scores on the hidden figures test,

and associative memory. These findings are similar to results reported by Masson and

Miller (1983). These researchers concluded that measures of learners' ability to store

verbal information are not powerful determinants of text processing ability for normal

adult readers.








Treatment was noted to interact with learner task preference, when examining

scores on the low level subtest. The effect of task preference on the low level subtest

was limited to subjects in the main point treatment group. As subjects in the main point

treatment group increasingly preferred to work on tasks that they set for themselves,

their success in answering knowledge and comprehension questions decreased. There

was no significant relationship between learner task preference and low level subtest

score for the look, interest or text treatment groups. The negative relationship between

task preference and score on the low level subtest for subjects in the main point

treatment group is congruent with findings by Domino (1968). Domino noted that

individuals at the achievement via conformity end of his bipolar scale performed

optimally in settings which were typified by clearly defined assignments, a high degree

of self-discipline, and where efficiency and responsibility were rewarded. Individuals

at the achievement via independence end performed optimally in situations which

rewarded independence, individuality, self-reliance, and creative innovation.

In this study, subjects in the main point treatment group were asked to carry out

a task which had specific expectations. This task also took significantly more time than

any other treatment and called for a high degree of self-discipline. Therefore, it is not

surprising that subjects in this treatment group who preferred to have tasks set for them

would out perform subjects who preferred to work on internally set tasks.

The treatment interactions regarding posttreatment museum demand

characteristics are also of interest in this study. Although all treatment groups showed a

positive relationship between pre- and posttreatment museum demand characteristics,

the slope for describing this relationship was less than .78 for all treatment groups.

Thus, after treatment, subjects' perceived demand characteristics of museums decreased

independent of treatment. This decrease was the most drastic for subjects who read a

transcript of the museum exhibits. The mean posttreatment perceived museum demand

characteristics for subjects in the text treatment group was 38% of the mean








pretreatment perceived museum demand characteristics. It would appear that reading a

text reinforced subjects' perceptions of museums as easy.


Conclusion and Implications for Future Research

An examination of the effects of visitor perceived demand characteristics and

encoding cues on learning from museum exhibits served to reinforce (a) the differences

between learning in informal settings and formal settings; (b) the effect that simple

instructions have on learning outcomes; and, (c) the value of considering both learner

aptitudes and the processing demands that test questions place on the learner. Verbal

fluency, disembedding ability, and subject task preference had significant effects on

achievement outcomes.

Researchers investigating the effects of learner perceptions of demand

characteristics of text, television, and exhibit mock-ups used in formal learning settings

have shown that as learners increasingly perceive an information source as difficult,

they subsequently devote more effort to encoding the information and, therefore, learn

more. In contrast, in this study, as visitors perceived learning in museum settings to be

increasingly difficult, they were less likely to invest effort in learning from them.

This study examined learning from 11 static case exhibits. The topics

addressed in these exhibits were all related to Florida natural history. Interest ratings

for each exhibit varied widely between individuals and on average. Exhibit interest has

been demonstrated to be an important predictor of time spent in front of an exhibit.

Shirey and Reynolds (1988) noted that adult learners learned interesting information

better without any extra expenditure of effort. Thus, it would appear that in museum

settings, visitors are spending more time at exhibits that have lower demands on effort

investment. Subjects in the look, interest, and text treatment groups did not show any

relationship between time and effort. Subjects in the main point treatment group, who








were called upon to interact with each exhibit, regardless of its perceived interest,

showed a positive relationship between time and effort.

Salomon's (1984) arguments concerning demand characteristics and amount of

invested mental effort also hinge upon a positive relationship between increasing

demand, effort and achievement. These arguments have been supported by research in

which subjects did not have the option of moving on to another program, exhibit or text

topic. In a free choice environment, such as a museum, it appears that when the

medium is perceived to be difficult to learn from, or when individual exhibits are

perceived as uninteresting, little time or effort will be expended to learn.

Future research investigating the effects of perceived difficulty and interest may

wish to also incorporate the perceived difficulty of individual exhibits and the

characteristics that visitors are using to determine difficulty. The organization and

amount of text included, the number of objects within an exhibit and the degree to

which the text varies from page format may effect visitors' perceptions of difficulty of

particular exhibits, and thus influence the degree of interaction with an exhibit and

willingness to invest effort. In a free choice environment, even visitors who arrive

prepared to invest effort to realize personal learning goals may still bypass or spend

minimal effort on exhibits when they are believed to be too complex, difficult or dull.

The cumulative effect of too many difficult or dull exhibits, could weaken the

relationship between perceived museum demand characteristics and effort.

Subjects in this study were specifically not informed that they would be tested

on exhibit content in an effort to minimize any external motivation for learning and to

maintain the free choice aspect of informal learning settings. In an informal learning

environment, all time and effort invested in learning is strictly internally motived.

Subjects in the main point treatment group were given an external task to carry out that

focused them on exhibit content but did not encourage synthesis of information across

exhibits. Instructions which focused subjects on the salient features of museum








exhibits appear to have placed time constraints on subjects. Subjects in the main point

treatment group, who scored significantly higher on questions calling for recall, did not

score significantly different on questions calling for synthesis, analysis and application

of information. It could be that subjects did not have the time or motivation to associate

new material with existing schemata. In future research efforts, it may be of interest to

provide instructions which make subjects aware of impending posttests. Investigations

which include instructions that encourage subjects to associate information across

exhibits would also be of interest.

Continued investigation of the effect of scores on the hidden figures test

as they relate to learning in informal settings would also be recommended to

provide insight into what exactly the test of hidden figures is measuring. Hidden

figures test scores have been associated with an individual's ability to;

superimpose knowledge structures on new information, disembed relevant

information from an irrelevant background, restructure new information into

manageable "chunks," and successfully address questions that call for problem

solving. All of these abilities would result in a positive relationship between

hidden figures test scores and achievement. However, it is also of interest to

note the relatively low correlations noted between the hidden figures test scores

and verbal fluency; .26 in this study and .13 between hidden figures test and

score on the wide range vocabulary test as noted by Spiro and Tirre (1980).

It is crucial to consider the level of processing that achievement test questions

call for when making generalizations regarding the effects of treatment and learner

abilities. Table 5-1 illustrates how the relationship between achievement and treatment

(Treat), time on task (Time), hidden figures test score (HFT), verbal fluency (Verbal),

associative memory (Assoc), Museum Demand Characteristics (MDC) and task

preference (Task), would vary if only high or low level processing subtests or if total

test score was considered. Use of achievement tests that address various levels of








learning can result in the failure to note treatment effects and aptitude treatment

interactions.


Table 5-1
Variation in Experimental Relationships as a Function of Test and Predictor Variable




Test Treat. Time HFT Verbal Assoc. MDC Task




Total none none Main/+ Main/+ Main/+ none Main/-

High none none Main/+ Main/+ none none Main/-

Low yes Main/+ TRT/+ TRT/+ TRT/+ none ATI



NOTE: ATI = aptitude treatment interaction, TRT = treatment effect
+ = positive relationship, = negative relationship


Results from this study demonstrate that significant learning occurs in museum

settings. Providing subjects with instructions to summarize exhibit content resulted in

significantly higher scores on a subtest composed of recall and recognition questions.

However, when examining subjects' ability to answer questions calling for synthesis,

analysis and application of exhibit information, this study would suggest that reading

text is just as effective a learning method as a visit to an informal learning center. The

amount of learning that occurs in informal settings may have been underestimated by

this researcher and other researchers examining learning in informal settings as a

function of the assumptions made when carrying out this line of research. Although the

assumptions described below played an integral role in this study to evaluate learning

from museum exhibits, they may be of reduced importance when considering a more

global view of learning in informal settings.








First, the researcher assumed that there would be congruence between the

institution's goals for the exhibit and visitors' goals in terms of stimuli attended to and

how learners choose to integrate information. Visitors to an informal learning center

may not arrive with the goal of learning all that is possible about a particular topic.

Rather, a visitor may enter an informal learning center to satisfy the goal of being

entertained and will then selectively attend to information that is found to be interesting.

The information gained is not necessarily organized into the structure foreseen by the

exhibit curators. Therefore, test questions are not effective in measuring achievement.

Also, by virtue of the achievement test, information that is not relevant to exhibit

objectives, but that may be of interest to learners, is deemed unimportant.

The researcher also placed a qualitative value on information that is gained by

visitors and the level to which that information is processed. Prior knowledge has been

shown to be a strong predictor of learning (Staver & Jacks, 1988). However, this

study did not take visitor prior knowledge into account. Knowledge and

comprehension levels of learning may be significant for individuals who lack prior

knowledge of subject areas. Thus, given the level of prior knowledge on the part of the

visitor, any learning may be significant.

Also, the researcher did not consider the affective domain in this study beyond

surveying subjects' views as to how fun museums were perceived to be. The mean

response to the statement "It is more fun to visit a museum than it is to read a book,"

was between strongly agree and agree. Overall, this view showed no significant

change due to treatment. This study suggests that reading a text is just as effective a

way for college students to process information as a visit to an informal learning center.

However, the likelihood that an individual will voluntarily pick up a book on the same

subject that a museum exhibit addresses remains an unknown quantity. Informal

learning centers may have a significant effect on individuals' attitudes toward a subject

and learning in general. Learning is a lifelong process and most of that learning occurs








in informal settings. The fact that learning in these settings is viewed as enjoyable and

actively sought out may compensate for disparities between exhibit objectives and

visitor learning.













GLOSSARY


Amount of invested mental effort The number of nonautomatic, effortful elaborations
applied to a unit of material. Reliably measured by use of self
report (Salomon 1983, 1984).

Aptitude Any characteristic of the learner which facilitates or interfers with learning
from some designated instructional method (Koran & Koran,
1984).

Aptitude-treatment interaction A situation where one instructional treatment or
methodology is significantly better for one type of student
while another treatment favors a different type of student.
(Koran & Koran, 1984).

Associative memory A measure of short term memory capacity.

Attention Selectively focusing on a specific stimuli to the exclusion of other stimuli.

Attracting power A ratio between the number of people who stop and attend to an
exhibit and the total number of people who pass by an exhibit.
Disembedding ability In reference to flexibility of closure, the ability to hold a given
visual percept or configuration in mind as to disembed it from
other well defined perceptual material (French et al, 1976).
Elaboration relating, analyzing and associating new material to stored knowledge

General ability A term used to refer to measures of intelligence, scholastic aptitude,
and verbal and nonverbal reasoning tests (Koran & Koran,
1984)

Holding power The total amount of time a visitor spends attending to an exhibit.

Informal learning settings Environments where the individual is intrinsically
motivated to attend to stimuli, activities are self directed and
individuals are free to choose which stimuli to attend to
and for how long.
Perceived demand characteristics Predispositions, attitudes or attributions of a source
of information that affect how much effort is devoted to
comprehension.













APPENDIX A
MATERIAL FOR TEXT TREATMENT GROUP




The material composing the text is a word for word transcription of the 11

exhibits that were viewed by subjects in the look, interest and main point treatment

groups.


Mammal Invasions and Introductions in Florida

Natural invasion occurs when a climatic or other barrier is removed, when a

species through evolution overcomes a limiting factor or when populations increase

markedly. Most introductions are non-native mammals brought in by man

intentionally.

Nine banded armadillo (Dasypus novemcinctusl. The nine banded armadillo is

here because of natural movement and introduction by man. Several animals escaped

near Titusville in 1924 when a circus truck overturned and in 1936 when a hurricane

blew a circus apart. Their descendants now live throughout the peninsula and are still

progressing west and north. Populations that originally invaded Texas from Mexico in

the 1800's are invading the Florida panhandle from the west.

House mice (Mus musculus), Norway rats (Rattus norwegicus) and Black rats

(Rattus rattus) native to Europe and Asia, probably arrived in America in the ships of

the earliest European settlers. They all can either live in the wild or in buildings. In the

same bar, the heavy, short tailed Norway rat uses the floor space and the slender

blackrat (with a long tail for balancing) inhabits the rafters and beams.

Four red bellied squirrels (Sciurus aureogaster) were introduced on Elliot Key

in 1938. No native squirrels were present in the jungle like forest on that island and the








exotics are now abundant. The wide salt water barrier should prevent natural invasions

into the Florida mainland.

Historically, domestic pigs (Sus scrofa) were allowed to run on open

range in Florida. A single rancher's hog range allowedd by local political arrangement)

could be as large as an entire county. The pigs were rounded up for market

periodically, but not all were captured. Today some are released intentionally and

managed by the state as a game resource.

Beaver (Castor canadensis) were common in Northern and Central Florida until

the late 1800's. Overharvesting nearly eliminated the species from the state; a few

panhandle populations may have survived. Reintroduction and natural movement from

Alabama and Georgia are re-establishing beaver here.

Coyotes (Canus latrans) and black tailed jackrabbits (Lepus californicus) are

released in Florida by persons who hunt with greyhounds. The coyotes are

reproducing in the wild in Northern Florida and the jackrabbits are very common at the

Miami International Airport and North Miami and may be spreading along roadside

"prairies," recently one was found in Tampa.

The South American Nutria (Mvocaster coypu) was imported as a fur animal.

When it became apparent that the aquatic rodent's fur had little use, ranchers all over the

United States released their animals or sold them to be stocked in freshwater marshes.

Nutria were widespread in Florida until the 1950's, but have declined for unknown

reasons and now occur only in a few places.

The large Sambar deer (Cervus unicolor) was introduced to St. Vincent Island

in 1900. Sambar are unusual among deer in being grazers (grass eaters) as well as

browsers (twig eaters). They have prospered at St. Vincent largely through their

grazing ability. The Gulf waters have been an effective barrier against dispersal to the

mainland.








Wild (feral) populations of rhesus monkeys (Macaca mullata) have been

established at Loggerhead Key and near Ocala, at Silver Springs and the Oklawaha

River. Squirrel monkeys (Siamiri sciurus) are living at Crystal River. Free ranging

populations at Silver Springs and Miami Monkey Jungle may depend on supplemental

feeding.

American Bison (Bison bison) first entered the Southeastern United States in

the late 1500's. Their spread through grassy, open areas was promoted by clearing and

burning by American Indians and European settlers. Bison were hunted as far south as

Tampa Bay, but were eliminated from the Southeast by 1800. Two were killed east of

Gainesville on August 13, 1716 and 3 were killed 7 days later near Ichetucknee

Springs.



Genetic Variation in Mammals

Though all animals of the same kind have common characteristics, they are

never identical. Many obvious variations are known to be the result of inherited

(genetic) factors.

Individual Variation color and size of individuals may vary within a

population. If environmental differences are not involved, the variation can be assumed

to be the result of genetic differences. The range of variation in fox squirrels from

North Central Florida is a good example of inherited individual variation

Sexual Variation color and size of individuals often differs according to sex.

These variations are known to be the result of genetic differences which are inherited.

Variations among populations subspecies All interbreeding populations have

characteristic features. If a portion of such a population becomes isolated, the two

resulting populations may develop different features. These populations may then be

recognized as distinct subspecies. Examples of this include subspecies of the plains








pocket gopher (Geomvs bursarius), gray squirrels (Sciurus carolinensis) and beach

mice (Peromvscus polionotus).

Variation among populations species When isolated populations change

substantially, they may become separate species. Several species of cottontail rabbits

(Sylvilagus illustrate variations among species. Two of these, the marsh rabbit and

eastern cottontail live in adjacent habitats in Florida (both occur on the University of

Florida campus).

Two subspecies breed with one another where they are in geographic contact.

By contrast, two species cannot interbreed even though they may live in the same place.


Florida: Land or Sea?

Limestone teeming with invertebrate fossil outcrops in most parts of Florida.

Shark teeth, dugong ribs, porpoise ribs and vertebrae are some of the common marine

fossils in sand and clay deposits. These fossils show that Florida was under the ocean

at various times in the past:

The right lower jaw (mandible) of a Balaenoptera, an extinct baleen whale from

Middle Pliestocene Bone Valley Formation. 10 Million years old. (Polk County).

Fossil marine invertebrates from the Gainesville region. They are Eocene (50

million years old) and Miocene (20 million years old).

Ribs and vertebrae from extinct porpoises that lived near what is now

Gainesville during the late Miocene Hawthorn Formation (20 million years old).

Dugong ribs, common Florida vertebrate fossils --- these are found in the

Gainesville region and are from the late Miocene Hawthorn Formation (20 million years

old).

Fossil shark teeth from creeksands in and near Gainesville. They are late

Miocene Hawthorn Formation (20 million years old).








What do paleontologist do with the evidence? By mapping the extent of each

rock formation and determining the age of the fossils in each, the relative positions of

land and sea during Florida's long history can be reconstructed.

For hundreds of millions of years, Florida lay completely submerged. About

50 million years ago, as sea levels dropped, islands began to appear on, in and around

Gainesville. Since that time major fluctuations in sea levels and uplifts of the land

masses have repeated changed Florida's shorelines. The greatest extent of Florida's

exposed land surface occurred during the Ice Ages (a time of alternating climatic

cycles). At times, vast amounts of rainwater were frozen into thick glaciers across the

Northern Continents. During one such glacial period, the world's seas were lowered

by at least 400 feet and Florida occupied twice the area that it does now. During the last

30 thousand years (a warmer period) seas have risen to the present level.


Tropical Ice Age Mammals


A great variety of mammals lived in Florida during the Ice Ages or Pliestocene.

The 128 known species of Ice Age mammals of Florida may be grouped in five ways.

Many Ice Age mammals (62 species) became extinct at the end of the

Pliestocene; examples are giant ground sloth, giant beaver, mammoth, mastodon, and

the saber-tooth tiger. Horses also died out.

Many Ice Age mammals (42 species) continued to live in Florida; bobcat,

beaver, black bear, yellow bat, white tailed deer, otter and cotton rat.

A few Ice Age mammals (6 species) vanished from Florida at the end of the

Pliestocene, but survived north of the state in temperate North America; examples are

the North American porcupine, northern muskrat, bog lemming, meadow vole and grey

bat.

A few other Ice Age mammals (5 species) also vanished from Florida at the end

of the Pliestocene but their nearest relatives survive in arid Western America; examples








are bison, coyote, jackrabbit, and pronghorn antelope.

The 13 remaining species of Ice Age mammals vanished from Florida at the end

of the Pliestocene and their nearest relatives survive only in tropical America; examples

are vampire bat, South American porcupine, capybara, spectacled bear, hognose

skunk, ocelot, jaguar, jaguarundi, tapir, peccary and llama.

Florida shared warm tropical conditions and many tropical species of mammal

with other Caribbean islands before the Pliestocene epoch or Ice Ages. Even when

glaciers blanketed the Great Lakes region and extremely cold winters struck temperate

parts of the world, Florida's subtropical climate continued and its tropical species

survived. Near the end of the Pliestocene, the northern Caribbean climate also became

to severe for many of these species.

The Formation of Fossils

Fossils are the preserved remains, impression or traces of plants and animals of

past geologic ages. Because natural processes tend to work against it, fossilization of

entire animals occurs only under special conditions.

Internal molds reflect internal structures. They are formed when an embedded

specimen's interior is filled with sediments that harden. When the outer shell or layer

dissolves or breaks away, the internal mold is exposed.

External molds are formed when a shell or other part is hidden in sedimentary

deposits and then dissolved by groundwater leaving behind an exact impression of the

original object.

Casts are formed when natural molds are filled with a mineral substance that

hardens and reflects the shape of the original specimen.

Unaltered remains, under very special conditions, parts of some organisms

endure without any change to the original material.









Carbonization occurs when the organic material slowly decomposes under

water or in sediment leaving behind only a film or a residue of carbon in the form of the

original specimen.

Petrification involves the replacement, particle by particle, of the original

substance of the specimen. This is a chemical process.

Permineralization occurs when minerals from groundwater fills voids in

specimens that are porous, such as bone or some types of shells. The objects original

shape is preserved.

Incomplete petrification the enclosing rock has been silicified, whereas the

fossil echinoid has retained its carbonate composition.

Invertebrate Fossils and Their Living Counterparts


Fossils are not necessarily remains of extinct forms of life. For example, many

fossils preserved in Florida's rocks have living counterparts. Shells of modem sea

animals and their fossil relatives may even be found side by side on certain beaches.

Fossils from older rocks are less likely to have living relatives. On the average,

animal species last about a million years and much of Florida is geologically younger

than this. By studying the living animals we can often make inferences about

environments of the fossil forms.


Freshwater Clams and Snails of the Gulf Coast Region


Some organisms occur in a variety of habitats over large geographic areas.

Others are more restricted. Biologists often find patterns in distribution that help

explain a regions geological, geographical and ecological history.

Locally endemic forms The Gulf Coast region of Florida and neighboring

parts of Alabama and Georgia harbor a rich assortment of aquatic animals. Many are

restricted in distribution (endemic) to this region. Some mollusks occur only in single








rivers and their tributaries or even small segments of a particular river. Some snails are

confined to a single spring.

Regionally Endemic Some other mollusks are more widely distributed within

this region and occur in several or more streams in lakes in Florida and adjacent states.

Widely distributed forms A third group of freshwater mollusks that occur in

Florida consists of species that are widely distributed in Eastern United States. They

tolerate a wider variety of ecological conditions.


Important Clues to Bird Identification

The identification of a specific bird by an amateur bird watcher or serious

ornithologist can be much easier when the bird's distinctive features are used as clues.



Silhouettes provide many clues: Are the wings long or short, broad or narrow,

rounded or pointed at the tips, slotted or unslotted at the tips? Are the wings leading

edges straight, curved or angular? How far does the head protrude beyond the body?

How long is the tail? Do the feet protrude beyond the tail?

Is the body held vertically, horizontally or at an angle? Is the tail elevated or

held horizontally? Is the head crested? Is there a small head on a large body, a large

head on a small body or a small head on a slender body?

Size is an important character:

Ruby throated hummingbird very small

Carolina wren small

Cardinal medium

Fish crow large








Tail Shape is a distinctive character:

Cliff swallow short, notched

Barn swallow deeply forked

Purple martin moderately forked

Red bellied woodpecker stiff, with pointed tail feathers

American robin squared

Blue jay rounded

Morning dove long and pointed

What is the shape of the bill:

American Greenwinged teal flattened

Brown creeper slender and probelike

Meadowlark straight

Red cockaded woodpecker straight and sturdy, chisel-like

Common snipe long

Yellow throated warbler slender and needlelike

American kestrel sharply hooked

Blue grosbeak heavy and conical

Chimney Swift short

Are feet webbed for swimming, adapted for walking on the ground or perching

in trees? Do they have special adaptations for climbing or grasping prey? Exact

structure may be difficult to see but foot color is sometimes an important characteristic.

A red eyed vireo and a hooded warbler most species having descriptive names

do have observable features of color, pattern, shape or habit. But common names can

be misleading. Some birds' names are based solely on the appearance of adult males in

breeding plumage. Others are based on features that are hidden or too small to notice.

Some names exaggerate (as with the greenwinged teal and redwinged blackbird), still

others have nothing to do with the bird's actual appearance.








Color differences within a species are important; between make and female and

between immature birds and adults. Summer and winter plumages may also be

different.

Color and color patterns are among the most important and most used clued.

Certain color features provide immediate identification; such as two white outer tail

feathers of the vesper sparrow, the black mask of the loggerhead shrike, and the

neckbands of the killdeer, piping plover and semipalmated plover. Bill and foot colors

are also important.



Identifying Birds by Their Behavior and Their Places in

Environments

Every species has a habitat preference and its own behavioral characteristics.

Illustrated here are common resident birds encountered in mixed pine and broad leafed

Florida forest.

Feeding behaviors of many species of bird are quite distinctive.

Several species glean leaves for insects but move differently: Yellow throated

warblers move slowly and deliberately; Parula warblers and yellow throated vireos

make rapid flitting movements.

While hunting, red tailed hawks soar and American kestrels hover and pursue

over open fields. Coopers hawks dart deftly and rapidly thru open spaces in the forest.

Aerial soaring and pursuit of insects, or hawking, by birds that do not perch

between catches is a characteristic behavior of chimney swifts, purple martins and

nighthawks.

Great crested flycatchers, Acadian flycatchers and Wood peewees sally forth

and hawk for insects and return to their perches between








A species is usually found in a specific habitat:

Forest canopy; yellow throated vireo, yellow throated warbler, summer

tananger.

Forest subcanopy; red eyed vireo, wood peewee.

Short tree/shrub layer, white eyed vireo, carolina wren, acadian flycatcher.

Thicket or Forest Edge; brown thrasher, indigo bunting.

Forest Floor; rufous sided towhee.

On the Ground near Forest Edge; bobwhite.

Open Fields; meadowlark.

Some species may be found in more than one place or more than one level in its

habitat, but certain places always seem to be preferred. For example, cardinals in open

stretches in a forest and its edges; pileated woodpeckers on the largest tree trunks; red

bellied woodpeckers on medium sized tree trunks and large limbs; and downy

woodpeckers always on small treetrunks and small limbs.

The voice of a bird may often be the only indication that it is present. Examples

include those birds that stay in thick underbrush or are nocturnal:

Carolina wren usually hidden in thick underbrush.

Barred owl, screech owl, chuckwills widows and woodcocks usually move

about only at night.


Poisonous Snakes of Florida


Though most Florida snakes are harmless, a few are dangerous. All have

certain markings by which they can be separated from non-poisonous species. All

poisonous snakes should be avoided.

Except for the way they procure their food, poisonous snakes are identical to all

other snakes in their lifestyle, ecology and biology.








Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake (Crotalus admanteus). The rattles may be

used to make a buzzing warning, but not necessarily. The triangular head, diamond

pattern, tail rattles, and pit between each eye and nostril distinguish this dangerous

snake from any harmless snake.

Pigmy Rattlesnake (Sistrurus miliarius). This small venomous serpent, often

called a ground rattler, has dark patches on a light gray background often with irregular

orange markings. It has a triangular head and a pit between each eye and nostril.

Notice the differences between it and the harmless southern hognose snake that often

appears dangerous by its head and neck flattening, hissing, puffing up and head

thrusting movements.

Copperhead (Agkistrodon contortrix). Copperheads have comparatively

slender bodies, triangular heads, a pit between each eye and nostril and a pinkish

brown color with darker markings. Because of their superficial resemblance to the

cottonmouth, copperheads are occasionally called upland moccasins.

Coral Snake (Micrurus fulvius). This dangerous snake has a black nose and

black, yellow and red bands that go all the way around the body. The color pattern

distinguishes this highly poisonous snake from the scarlet kingsnake and scarlet snake,

both of which are harmless.

Cottonmouth Moccasin (Agkistrodon piscivorous) The cottonmouth moccasin,

usually found in or near water has a thick body, dark dull pattern, triangular head and a

pit between each and nostril. When alarmed it may open its mouth, showing the white

lining. The harmless banded water snake and several other watersnakes are confused

with it.

Canebrake Rattlesnake (Crotalus horridus). This is a close relative of the timber

rattlesnake of the northern uplands. It is heavy bodied, with a comparatively small

triangular head. The light brown body with darker chevron markings are characteristic.








The effects of snake poisons vary, depending upon the size and species of the

snake, the amount of poison injected, the size and nature of the bite and the age and

health of the bitten animal. Some venoms affect the functioning of the nervous system

and respiratory systems; others attack the circulatory system by destroying the lining of

the blood vessels, blood cells and blood clotting mechanisms. Most venoms move

through the intercellular spaces and pass through the tissues rather than following

nerves or blood vessels. Tissue damage is occasionally extensive and serious bacterial

infections (gangrene) may be involved. Venoms are particularly dangerous to

individuals who happen to be sensitive to the foreign proteins they contain; for them,

such bites can cause death or serious illness.

Poisonous snakes may have several hollow fangs in each jaw; but only one on

each side is functional. The others are held in reserve until the worn fang is shed.

Worn fangs are usually lost during feeding. Coral snakes have fixed fangs--the fangs

of vipers (all other Florida poisonous snakes) swing backwards when the mouth is

closed.

Interesting Amphibians and Reptiles of Florida

Over 200 forms (species and subspecies) of amphibians and reptiles occur in

Florida. All have unusual body forms and/or behavior that allow them to survive in

diverse environments. Several Florida species illustrate the extraordinary variety of

lifestyles in these vertebrates. Some are found nowhere else in the world.

Greater Siren (Siren lacertina), this eel-like salamander's single pair of legs,

bushy gills, and stout body distinguish it from other aquatic amphibians.

Little Grass Frog (Limnoaedus ocularis), at 1/2 inch, this is the smallest frog in

North America and one of the smallest vertebrates in the world. In Florida it often

breeds in roadside ditches throughout the year. Its cricket-like call is so high and shrill

that some persons have difficulty hearing it.