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Depicting the tree of life in museums: guiding principles from psychological research

Novick, Laura R.; Pickering, Jane; MacDonald, Teresa; Diamond, Judy; Ainsworth, Shaaron E.; Aquino, Adriana E.; Catley, Kefyn M.; Dodick, Jeff; Evans, Evelyn Margaret; Matuk, Camillia; Sacco, Janis; Scott, Monique

Authors

Laura R. Novick Laura.Novick@vanderbilt.edu

Jane Pickering

Teresa MacDonald

Judy Diamond

Shaaron E. Ainsworth

Adriana E. Aquino

Kefyn M. Catley

Jeff Dodick

Evelyn Margaret Evans

Camillia Matuk

Janis Sacco

Monique Scott



Abstract

The Tree of Life is revolutionizing our understanding of life on Earth, and, accordingly, evolutionary trees are increasingly important parts of exhibits on biodiversity and evolution. The authors argue that in using these trees to effectively communicate evolutionary principles, museums need to take into account research results from cognitive, developmental, and educational psychology while maintaining a focus on visitor engagement and enjoyment. Six guiding principles for depicting evolutionary trees in museum exhibits distilled from this research literature were used to evaluate five current or recent museum trees. One of the trees was then redesigned in light of the research while preserving the exhibit’s original learning goals. By attending both to traditional factors that influence museum exhibit design and to psychological research on how people understand diagrams in general and Tree of Life graphics in particular, museums can play a key role in fostering 21st century scientific literacy.

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date Nov 15, 2014
Journal Evolution: Education and Outreach
Print ISSN 1936-6426
Electronic ISSN 1936-6426
Publisher Humana Press
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 7
Article Number 25
APA6 Citation Novick, L. R., Pickering, J., MacDonald, T., Diamond, J., Ainsworth, S. E., Aquino, A. E., …Scott, M. (2014). Depicting the tree of life in museums: guiding principles from psychological research. Evolution: Education and Outreach, 7, doi:10.1186/s12052-014-0025-0
DOI https://doi.org/10.1186/s12052-014-0025-0
Keywords Evolution, Representation
Publisher URL http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s12052-014-0025-0
Copyright Statement Copyright information regarding this work can be found at the following address: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0

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Copyright Statement
Copyright information regarding this work can be found at the following address: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0





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