Motivational factors and the visitor experience: A comparison of three sites
Museums, art galleries, botanical gardens, national parks, science centres, zoos, aquaria and historic sites are important public learning institutions. The free-choice learning offered in these settings is closely linked to visitors’ intrinsic motivation, making it important to understand the motivational factors that impact on visitors’ experiences. This paper presents questionnaire data collected from visitors to three sites: a museum, an art gallery, and an aquarium. It examines similarities and differences among the sites in relation to visitors’ expectations, perceptions of learning opportunities, engagement in motivated learning behaviours, and perceptions of the learning experience. The importance of learning to museum visitors is highlighted, and the unique opportunities and challenges of the museum in relation to other educational leisure settings discussed. It is suggested that the study of motivational factors might contribute to the development of a common theoretical foundation for interpretation in museum and other informal learning settings.
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