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Two students - photo provided by the Rochester Museum & Science Center

Intrinsic motivation in science museums

Research project

Quick facts

Director/PI: Principal Investigator Samantha Daley; co-principal investigators Gabrielle Rappolt-Schlichtmann and Becki Kipling

Collaborators: Rochester Museum & Science Center, Museum of Science, Boston, and EdTogether

Funding: National Science Foundation Advancing Informal STEM Learning program

Related projects: Motivation in science among students with learning disabilities: Broadening participation and persistence


An Advancing Informal STEM Learning grant from the National Science Foundation allows Warner School of Education and Human Development researchers to team up with the Rochester Museum and Science Center and the Museum of Science in Boston to study the motivational experiences of science museum visitors with learning disabilities. The team’s goal is to broaden participation in informal science learning by focusing on identifying and addressing the needs of diverse youth with learning disabilities in museum exhibit and program design.

The research will be conducted in three phases and will use the autonomy and competence components of Self Determination Theory, a well-constructed theory of human motivation developed four decades ago by Edward Deci and Richard Ryan, to help lay a framework for explaining the intrinsic motivation of youth with learning disabilities. The three-year research project, titled “Intrinsic motivation in science museums: Learning from and broadening participation of visitors with learning disabilities,” will generate new insights into the ways in which informal STEM education practitioners can facilitate the inclusion of adolescents with disabilities and design exhibits and programs to be inclusive of all people.

Read the press release on the Intrinsic Motivation in Science Museums project.

Photo credit: Photo provided by the Rochester Museum & Science Center.