Journal Articles

Filippini-Fantoni, S.*,  Jaebker, K., Bauer, D.*, Stofer, K.* (2013). Capturing visitors' gazes: Three eye tracking studies in museums. Joint paper published for Museums and the Web Conference, Portland, Oregon, April 17, 2013. *These authors contributed equally to this publication.

Stofer, K. (2012). Understanding Expert and Novice Meaning-Making from Global Data Visualizations. Journées Hubert Curien International Conference on Science Communication Paper.

Rowe, S., & Nickels, A. (2011). Visitor Motivations Across Three Informal Education Institutions: An Application of the Identity-Related Visitor Motivation Model. Visitor Studies, 14(2), 162–175. doi:10.1080/10645578.2011.608006

Phipps, M., and Rowe, S., (September, 2010). Seeing satellite data. People & Science, September, 2010: 23.

Pegg, J., Schmoock, H. & Gummer, E.  (2010). Incorporation of  a Mentoring Model into Scientist Teacher Partnerships:  Enhancing Teaching and Learning of Scientific Inquiry in Middle and High School Science Classrooms.  Journal of School Science and Mathematics, 110(2), 98-109

Phipps, M., and Rowe, S. (2010). Seeing satellite data. Public Understanding of Science(19)3: 311-321.

Phipps, M. (2010) Research Trends and Findings From a Decade (1997–2007) of Research on Informal Science Education and Free-Choice Science Learning. Visitor Studies 13(1), 3-22.

Christensen, A., Needham, M. D., & Rowe, S. (2009). Whale watchers’ past experience, value orientations, and awareness of consequences of actions on the marine environment. Tourism in Marine Environments, 5(4), 271-285. 

Anderson, R. (2009). Resources for Losing Touch with Nature? Museums & Social Issues, 4(2), 229-235.

Phipps, M., Rowe, S., & Cone, J. (2008). Incorporating Handheld Computers into a Public Science Center: A Design Research Study. Visitor Studies, 11(2), 123–138. doi:10.1080/10645570802355448

Christensen, A., Rowe, S. and Needham, M. (2007). Value orientations, awareness of consequences, and participation in a whale watching education program in Oregon. Human Dimensions of Wildlife 12(4): 289-293.

Schmoock, H., Pegg, J. & Gummer, E.  (2007).  Lessons Learned from Incorporating a Mentoring Model into Scientist-Teacher Partnerships in the Willamette Valley Watershed Partnership Project.  The Oregon Science Teacher, 49 (2), 8-11.


Book Chapters

Rowe, S. and Bachman, J. (2012). Mediated action as a framework for exploring learning in informal settings. In D. B. Ash, J. Rahm, and L. M. Melber (Eds.), Putting Theory into Practice: Tools for Research in Informal Settings (p.143-162). Rotterdam, The Netherlands: Sense Publishers.

Rowe, S. (2012). Scientific visualizations as discourse nexus: Transmission of content or context for making meaning? In S. Norris (Ed.), Multimodality in Practice: Investigating Theory in Practice Through Methodology (pp. 50-65). New York: Routledge.

Rowe, S. (2007). Using multiple situation definitions to create hybrid activity space. In S. Norris & R. H. Jones (Eds.),Discourse in Action: Introducing Mediated Discourse Analysis (pp. 123–134). London: Taylor & Francis.



Concept Mapping

In April 2011, Sea Grant leaders Joe Cone and Shawn Rowe presented a primer presentation on concept mapping, entitled "Using Concept Maps to Make Thinking Visible in Groups". See the presentation [.pdf][HTML]

Magic Planet Installation Evaluation Findings August, 2010

Our front-end and formative evaluation report for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is part of a series of evaluations done on spherical display systems such as the internal-projection Magic Planet and NOAA's external-projection Science on a Sphere.

Port Orford Community Working Group

The working group project led by the Port Orford Ocean Resource Team used concept mapping to better understand the potential effects of a changing climate, and to consider what, if anything, the Port Orford community might want to do to address those effects.  Read their report [.pdf] [HTML]

Professional Development for Informal Educators

National Science Foundation funding is also supporting the development of face-to-face and distributed, asynchronous professional-development opportunities for educators in communicating current marine and aquatic sciences research in a wide range of informal science education sites. Workshops and on-line courses help educators in museums, zoos, aquariums, state and national parks, and after school clubs develop partnerships with scientists while mastering science communication techniques.  View the poster presented at the February 2010 Oceans Science Conference in Portland[PDF]  [HTML].

Dover-Good, L. & Rowe, S. (2012) Coastal Master Naturalist Program: Summative Evaluation Report. Program report. COSEE Pacific Partnerships, Newport, OR.

Dover, L. & Rowe, S. (2010) Coastal master naturalist program evaluation: Interim report. Program Report. COSEE Pacific Partnerships, Newport, OR.

Dover, L. & Rowe, S. (2010) Reformed training practices for ISEI volunteers: An evaluation at Oregon Coast Aquarium.Program Report. COSEE Pacific Partnerships, Newport, OR.

Contact us for copies of these reports.


Recommendations for Practice

We always aim to make our research practical for free-choice learning environments and educators of all stripes. Some of our work is beginning to include recommendations for practice in several realms.

Integrating Scientists Into Professional Development for Educators

Several of our projects, particularly as part of our COSEE partnership, have worked to help scientists become an integral part of professional development programs for informal educators. Successful integration requires planning before the training and follow-through during execution to outline and continually address the needs of all the stakeholders, including the educators, the scientists, and the overarching programs within which the educators and scientists operate.

Successful professional development programs prepare scientists for working with an adult audience and for being mindful of their needs. All parties need to be explicit about, cognizant of and working toward meeting the goals of all of those groups involved in the training.

Volunteer Training

Our work with volunteer trainings has revealed that a great deal of the learning volunteers do around their practice comes from observing and working with other volunteers. This means that a well-developed peer-to-peer mentoring program can be valuable in volunteer training.

In addition, volunteers in informal science education settings report tendencies to desire a great deal of content training. Efforts to provide training around interpretation practice, therefore, need to be explicitly outlined for and promoted to volunteers in order to accomplish buy-in for this type of training.

Volunteers also benefit from instruction in and time to reflect on their own practice. Finally, our research revealed discrepancies between what volunteers could articulate as their practices and what observations of their practice found, underscoring the need for multiple methods of evaluation and assessment around volunteer training effectiveness.

Complex Scientific Data Visualization

Our work suggests that the visualizations that scientists use to communicate with each other contain layers of information that make their meanings virtually impenetrable by non-scientists, or even scientists of different fields. Thus, we are beginning to outline several ways that visualizations can be improved for beter communication among a variety of groups:


Use culturally-familiar colors in depicting your data, instead of ramps that are used only by a select, highly-trained group. For increasing-only or decreasing-only values, choose a color ramp that remains in one color and varies hue, saturation, and brightness to depict different values of data rather than using different colors for different values.

Different colors should be treated almost as different categories of data, e.g. temperatures are one color, salinity values are another color instead of multiple colors for temperature only. On the other hand, for diverging data, such as anomaly from average or difference from zero, choose two colors, one for each direction away from the middle. For areas of non-data, choose a neutral color that is different from any colors used to depict background. That is, if you are depicting ocean data on a globe, make sure that land is a different color from "no data" areas of ocean.

Finally, consider human perception. Yellow-green is the most obvious to viewers with normal color vision; if yellow is in your image it will draw attention so it should be used as something that is most important, rather than a mid-range value, for example. Also consider color-blind users; grayscale or single-color ramps might preserve information better for those viewers as well.

Geographic Labels

Include geographic labels to orient the viewer. Often, non-specialists presented with regional data have to take extra time to recognize what area is shown, and sometimes remain confused as to what is land and what is ocean. Don't forget to make the font legible, including both the font style and its size.

Scale Bars and Units

Convert the units of your data to culturally-familiar units, such as Fahrenheit instead of Celsius. It gives viewers of your data a better frame of reference to fit your findings with their prior experiences. Place the scale bar vertically to the left of your image so it is within the viewer's first "line of sight." That is, as American viewers tend to read left to right, top to bottom, scale bars on the left of the image will be encountered before the actual data.

Finally, include a jargon-free title, especially one that is a complete sentence that conveys the main idea if possible. Complete sentences are easier for humans to remember than fragments.

External Issues and Other Thoughts

Once you've thought about all of the above, don't forget to think about where the image is most likely to be used. If you're publishing it on the web or in a newspaper, your screen and/or ink colors will probably not be affected by much else.

However, if you're designing specifically for a museum setting, perhaps even a spherical display, you'll want to think about the ambient lighting in the room, the power of the projector(s) or screen showing your image, and even the shape of the screen, if some other software will be warping your image from the shape you are working with.

Sometimes there's no substitute for trial and error, especially with a few visitors, but a little testing before you spend hours finalizing the minutae might make for a much improved final product.