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Motivational factors and the experience of learning in educational leisure settings

Packer, Jan Merle (2004) Motivational factors and the experience of learning in educational leisure settings. PhD thesis, Queensland University of Technology.

Abstract

Motivation is an important aspect of learning in educational leisure settings because it affects the choices visitors make regarding what to attend to, the amount of effort they devote to learning, and the extent to which they enjoy the experience. Commonly, however, visitors seek entertainment, social or restorative experiences as well as, or in preference to, a learning experience. This research investigates the impact of motivational factors on the experience of learning in educational leisure settings. Motivational factors are considered in terms of four components - personal goals, capability beliefs, context beliefs and situational incentives. The experience of learning is considered in terms of visitors’ perceptions of the experience, rather than objective measures of learning outcomes, as the experience itself is seen as the desired outcome of the visit.

Visitors to six different educational leisure settings in South East Queensland were invited to participate in the research, including a museum, an art gallery, a wildlife centre, an aquarium, and guided tours of natural and cultural heritage sites. Quantitative and qualitative data were collected using questionnaires (499 participants) and interviews (52 participants) in order to ascertain the importance to visitors of different types of learning experiences; identify the extent to which motivations for learning vary across sites and visitor groups; investigate the relationships between the educational, entertainment, social and restorative aspects of the visitors’ experience; and examine the impact of motivational factors on visitors’ experience of learning in leisure settings.

The findings support the importance of learning to visitors in a range of educational leisure settings. Visitors seek an experience that combines elements of learning and discovery, and is perceived to be both effortless and fun. It is concluded that the characteristics of learning in educational leisure settings contribute to a synergy between the educational and entertainment aspects of the experience. Situational factors are more important than personal factors in motivating visitors to engage in and experience this type of learning. This is of great significance to educational leisure settings as it implies that sites have a reasonable degree of control over the motivational factors that influence visitor engagement in learning.

Impact and interest:

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ID Code: 15911
Item Type: QUT Thesis (PhD)
Supervisor: Ballantyne, Roy& Purdie, Nola
Keywords: Museum Learning, Environmental and Heritage Interpretation, Visitor Studies, Motivation, Educational Leisure, Free-Choice Learning
Department: Faculty of Education
Institution: Queensland University of Technology
Copyright Owner: Copyright Janis Merle Packer
Deposited On: 03 Dec 2008 13:52
Last Modified: 29 Oct 2011 05:40

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