Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Educational Studies

Committee Chair

P. Youli Mantzicopoulos

Committee Member 1

Helen Patrick

Committee Member 2

Yukiko Maeda

Committee Member 3

Gerald H. Krockover


Informal education environments like museums have become some of the most important educational resources. Although much attention has been paid to museum settings and programs, little is known about how museum educators support visitors’ learning and intrinsic motivation. In particular, there is a need to investigate museum educators’ enthusiasm, considering that enthusiasm is a powerful way of creating an engaging learning experience across various subjects and environments. In this study, I investigate museum educators’ enthusiasm as perceived by adult visitors through the lens of interest development. The results I found (N = 209) indicate a strong positive relationship between museum educators’ enthusiasm and visitors’ situational interest. Visitors’ reports of educators’ enthusiasm were directly related to catch interest (β = .74) and indirectly to hold interest (β = .46). In addition, educators’ enthusiasm mediated the connection between prior individual interest and catch interest. Visitors’ prior individual interest was also moderately related to both their catch (β = .28) and hold interest (β = .37). Limitations and directions for future studies are discussed.