Date of Award


Degree Name

EdD Doctor of Education

Dissertation Committee

Douglas B. Fisher, PhD, Chair; Bernard J. Dodge, PhD; Susan M. Zgliczynski, PhD


children & youth, constructs of flow, curriculum, digital recorders, education, elementary schools, enhancing motivation, exhibits, Expectancy-value theory, Grounded theory, informal learning environment, museum education activities, Rosa Parks Elementary School (San Diego, CA)


While many extol the general value of museum fieldtrips, few can describe the specific parameters needed to make the excursion an educational benefit. Oftentimes, a day at the Museum of Natural History or time spent at the local art gallery is casually put into place with little forethought or attention to activity details. This research intended to utilize the parameters of flow theory and children's interest to investigate the phenomenon of student motivation while viewing an exhibit. Informal learning environments offer educators the opportunity to look beyond the halls of their campus in a manner that allows augmentation of curriculum and the opportunity to evoke interest and increased effort. The study examined elementary school students in grade five who attend Rosa Parks Elementary School located in City Heights, California. Students were allowed to experience museum exhibits in two different ways: (a) one group was given tape recorders and was asked to critique exhibits, and (b) a second group was given a teacher-generated worksheet to complete. The latter group also carried digital recorders. The former task was intended to follow the parameters outlined in flow theory. The latter task was designed to represent a typical activity employed by teachers taking students on a fieldtrip. Using the Experience Sampling Method (ESM), students were given a modified version of WebMAC Junior 2000, a survey based on Expectancy-Value Theory. The survey was designed to assess motivation. In addition, content knowledge acquired by both groups was evaluated using a content assessment tool. Several weeks after the exhibit activity, students were given the opportunity to view a web site of their own choosing. They were given three sites to choose from, one of which correlated to content found at the museum they had visited. Tape recordings were transcribed and analyzed for common themes, and post-activity interviews were conducted to clarify student perspectives. A grounded theory approach was used with the intent of exploring the phenomenon of motivation in an informal learning situation.

Document Type

Dissertation: Open Access