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Exploring Motivational Factors and
Visitor Satisfaction in On-line Museum Visits

Kate Haley Goldman, Institute for Learning Innovation
David T. Schaller, eduweb


The hardest part about developing an understanding of museum audiences, both physical and virtual, is not understanding who is visiting, but understanding what visitors take away with them from their visit. This paper reports on an on-line survey that explored the latter question by focusing very specifically on issues of motivation. Why do people visit a museum web site, and how do these motivations affect their experience with the site, and the learning or meaning-making that may happen as a result of their visit? By understanding the links between motivation and meaning-making, museum professionals will be able to provide more effective and more enriching on-line experiences for their visitors.

Our research builds on the current research from several different fields:

  1. Previous studies of web visitors' reasons for using museum web sites,
  2. Current educational research on the factors that influence motivation, including self-efficacy (visitors' perception of their own comfort on the site), task value (how much value they place in visiting that site) and other related issues, and
  3. The Contextual Model of Learning, from the museum education field, which is a framework of 12 key factors that significantly influence museum learning.

Based on responses to a pop-up survey placed on educational sections within six museum web sites, we found statistically significant correlations between task value and expectations fulfillment, and between medium mastery and expectations fulfillment. Results from the question on meaning-making were too vague or varied from the open-ended questioning to be linked with the other issues under consideration.

Keywords: Motivation, Learning, Evaluation, Web, Museum, Task Value

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