Honors Theses and Capstones

Date of Award

Spring 2022

Project Type

Senior Honors Thesis

College or School



Human Development and Family Studies

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science

First Advisor

Jill Trumbell


Children’s museums are informal educational environments that foster creativity, support sensory exploration, and provide places for both free play and learning (Gong et al., 2020). This study aimed to more fully understand parental goals for taking their children to a children’s museum, and how those goals varied based on characteristics known to play a role in how parents and children interact together. Subjects included 70 child-parent dyads. Each parent completed a demographic questionnaire, the Child Behavior Questionnaire-Very Short Form (Putnam & Rothbart, 2006) to assess temperament, and responded to an open-ended prompt related to visit intent. Dyads were then recorded interacting in 2 different museum exhibits that were coded for parental sensitivity. Results showed that parents had wide-ranging intentions for museum visits. Eleven themes emerged related to individual and social benefits, with most focused on learning and fun. Correlational analyses revealed several significant predictors of parental goals, which interestingly, varied as a function of parent and child characteristics (e.g. age and temperament of child, and sensitivity of the parent). These results add to what is known in the field and can be used to guide further investigation. They are also informative to children’s museum administrators, as an aid to better understanding the motivations of their clientele.