Spatial language in families' conversational reflections about museum experiences

Naomi Polinsky*, Lauren C. Pagano, Diana I. Acosta, Catherine A. Haden, David H. Uttal

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Prior work demonstrates the importance of spatial language use during museum experiences for children's spatial skills. The ways families talk about experiences after they occur is also important in the learning process. Therefore, we asked how families use spatial language in conversational reflections after experiencing exhibits and programs in a children's museum. Families (N = 243) with a 6- to 11-year-old child made recordings discussing experiences in a tinkering exhibit and up to two other exhibits. Families reflected on tinkering programs that were either open-ended, function-focused, or engineering-focused. In comparison to families who reflected on open-ended tinkering programs, those who reflected on engineering-focused programs used more spatial language in their reflections. Furthermore, our analysis of reflections about additional museum exhibits revealed that families used the most spatial language when reflecting on exhibits emphasizing navigation. Results suggest design features of informal learning experiences that may support spatial language in families' reflections.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number101539
JournalJournal of Applied Developmental Psychology
StatePublished - May 1 2023


  • Memory
  • Museums
  • Parent–child conversations
  • Spatial language

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


Dive into the research topics of 'Spatial language in families' conversational reflections about museum experiences'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this