This evaluative comparison study was designed to determine the extent to which the application of augmented reality technology increases realization of a hands-on exhibit device's intent and how augmented reality technology might influence family learning behaviors and facilitate the integration of the experiential and interpretive aspects of an informal science learning experience. The study was conducted at The Franklin Institute Science Museum during the summer of 2010. Twenty families interacted with an exhibit device called "Be the Path" in both its traditional hands-on condition and a novel augmented condition. While the sample size was too small to generate statistically significant differences between conditions, the resultant qualitative analysis of the family learning behaviors suggested that the families who encountered "Be the Path" in its augmented hands-on condition played longer and at a higher level of quality than those who encountered the hands-on device without augmentation. All of the families who experienced "Be the Path" in its augmented condition surpassed the families who experienced the non-augmented device on at least one measure. Furthermore, many of the families who encountered the augmented reality surpassed their counterparts in the non-augmented device group on two or more measures. These positive findings suggest that additional investigation is warranted in order to deepen understanding of augmented reality technology's potential to influence family learning behaviors around hands-on exhibit devices in ways that could create and support the development of skills needed to maximize the impact of informal learning--in science museums and elsewhere.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Dissertations (EdD) -- Educational technology; Science -- Study and teaching

Date of Award


School Affiliation

Graduate School of Education and Psychology



Degree Type


Degree Name


Faculty Advisor

Riel, Margaret A.