Mia Marcus
“This project will be focused on the power of storytelling, both by kids and their parents." Mia Marcus Assistant Professor of Psychology

A Roosevelt University psychology professor and her colleagues have received a grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to study learning among kids visiting a science exhibit at Chicago Children’s Museum.

Now in her second year at Roosevelt, Assistant Professor of Psychology Mia Marcus and fellow researchers from Loyola and Northwestern Universities see family visits to museums as opportunities for both playtime and learning.

They are looking for ways to enhance playful learning, particularly among kids who design, experiment and create using science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) skills, at the museum’s Tinkering Lab.

“With this project, we hope to pinpoint factors that promote engagement in STEM,” said Marcus, who is part of the new three-year Advancing Informal STEM Learning project that began in the fall.

Data collection for the project gets underway at the museum on Thursday, Dec. 26, 2019.  Cameras, observation and sound recording are among tools that researchers will use to monitor activities and collect data about Tinkering Lab activities.

During the visit, kids may receive basic materials – bottle caps, wooden sticks, drinking straws and hot dog trays are just a few - and then be asked to design and create a new entity that is capable, for instance, of rolling down ramps and across tables in the lab. 

Also during the visit, kids will be encouraged to verbalize the process that goes into the project, as well as recount concepts, formulas, steps and ideas they used for relatives and friends who were not present.

Data collected will be for a further in-depth, follow-up study led by Marcus, who will re-contact families that visited the museum and Tinkering Lab over the holiday break to find out what they remember.

“Museum exhibits are meant to engage people, and we hope through this project to ultimately determine what works best in stimulating STEM learning,” said Loyola University Psychology Professor Catherine Haden.

In fact, research outcomes could influence the way Chicago Children’s Museum works with children in the future, as well as the way the museum field in general develops future exhibits and programs, said the museum’s Associate Vice President of Play and Learning Tsivia Cohen. 

Marcus, who completed a PhD at Loyola with Haden and a Postdoctoral Fellowship at Northwestern, subscribes to the theory that verbalization significantly improves learning – and that includes elaborate, open-ended conversations parents sometimes have with their kids.

“This project will be focused on the power of storytelling, both by kids and their parents,” she said.  “There is a lot of research that suggests storytelling facilitates learning,” she added. “However, the real factor in determining storytelling’s true impact will be what kids remember from their own and their parents’ stories and conversations.”

The Roosevelt professor has received $135,000 from NSF to test the power of verbalization/storytelling.

Related News...

Prof. Jason Alegro with personal protective equipment to be donated to Mt. Sinai
3/26/2020

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been a national shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE), which is essential to protect health care workers, including pharmacists. To meet this critical need, the Roosevelt University College of Pharmacy donated supplies from their teaching lab to Mount Sinai Hospital on Tuesday, March 24. This donation included gloves, gowns, isopropyl alcohol and hand sanitizer.

Roosevelt alum Mitch Weakley, a graduate from the music composition program
3/11/2020

In Fall 2020, Roosevelt University will introduce a unique undergraduate program to train students in computer coding for music composition. The new BA in Music and Computing is one of the first degrees to focus on the design and use of computer software for sound design and musical applications.

Integration steering committee looks on while RU and RMU presidents sign an agreement
3/9/2020

Chicago, IL—March 9, 2020.   Roosevelt University and Robert Morris University Illinois were notified by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC), their primary accreditor, that it has approved their joint application to make Robert Morris part of Roosevelt. The transaction was finalized on March 9, 2020.