Early Childhood Education Journal

, Volume 42, Issue 2, pp 125–132 | Cite as

Nature of Interactions Among Young Children and Adult Caregivers in a Children’s Museum

  • Caitlin McMunn Dooley
  • Meghan M. Welch


This naturalistic, qualitative study examines the nature of child- and adult-led interactions in a children’s museum. Using dialogic learning as a theoretical framework, the study examines how children and adults engage in interactions while learning at a museum. Findings suggest that children and adults are almost equally likely to lead interactions; however, most child-led interactions are qualitatively different from adult-led interactions. Children are more likely to show-and-tell about their experiences and learn by asking questions and commenting about their play. Adults are more likely to teach by telling, prompting, and reporting a child’s activities. Children and adults also are equally engage in pretend play during their interactions. Leveraging these findings, recommendations are made for museum exhibit space design.


Child–adult interactions Informal learning Museum Child-led Adult-led Dialogic learning 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Georgia State UniversityAtlantaUSA

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