1 EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
1.1 This literature review considers the links between childhood and adult participation in cultural activities, including participation in science events. This includes attendance as members of an audience and participation in arts and cultural activities and as visitors at science attractions such as museums and science centres.
1.2 The review was commissioned by the Scottish Government from the Centre for Research on Families and Relationships ( CRFR) at the University of Edinburgh.
Review of arts and culture
1.3 Research finds that exposure in childhood to arts and culture can demystify experiences and have positive benefits on children's education, emotional well being and behaviour as well as wider benefits for society.
1.4 Findings from the Scottish Household Survey Culture (and Sport) Module indicate that there may be a correlation between the differing experiences of arts and culture in childhood and participation in these activities in adulthood (Scottish Government, 2009).
1.5 Factors which impact on participation include: family background, exposure to arts education, frequency of attendance at events, being from a black and minority ethnic group and socio economic status.
1.6 There are a number of drivers for engagement in arts and culture. Encouragement from parents, positive early experiences and being from advantaged backgrounds are shown to result in greater exposure to arts and culture.
1.7 There is not an extensive body of research on childhood exposure to arts and culture and adult participation in these activities, particularly in the UK. There are few longitudinal studies or large scale surveys which have measured the impact of exposure in childhood and participation in adulthood.
1.8 Evidence from the large scale surveys of Taking Part (Oskala et al, 2009) and the Scottish Household Survey Culture (and Sport) Module (Scottish Government, 2009) will increasingly provide a valuable source of data.
1.9 More people are found to have taken part in arts and culture when wider definitions of participation are used. Research would benefit from a broader and more encompassing view of arts and culture.
1.10 There have been changes over time that can affect the level of participation in arts and culture activities, which are relevant to future research. These include: increased opportunities to access arts and culture, more interest among young adults and greater parental awareness of the benefits of children's participation in arts and culture.
Review of informal science
1.11 The review focuses on informal science activities which are accessed through museums, science and discovery centres although informal science learning can take place in a range of places and environments .
1.12 The wide range of places where informal science learning occurs makes it difficult to identify the influence of particular factors in both childhood and adulthood. There is a need for a wider interpretation of what is informal science learning.
1.13 Research shows that there is a correlation between the experiences of childhood and the interests of adulthood. Adult recollections of exposure to informal science in childhood indicate that these experiences do have a long term impact on adult participation.
1.14 Research on exposure in childhood has focused on its influence on formal education and professional choices in adulthood. The long-term objectives of science and discovery centres are linked closely with stimulating the interest of children and young people.
1.15 There is not an extensive body of research on the impact of childhood exposure to informal science on adult participation.
1.16 There are few examples of longitudinal research which look at the impact of childhood exposure on adult participation in the area of informal science. There appear to be no studies available in the UK with some research undertaken in the US and elsewhere.
1.17 There is a need for robust studies which explore the long lasting impact of informal science learning in childhood on adult participation. There are challenges associated with measuring outcomes and in identifying the impact of cause and affect on participation.
1.18 The wide and diverse range of informal science environments and activities makes it difficult to measure the impact of informal science experiences on children, young people and adults and to isolate the influence of individual factors.
Findings on arts and culture and informal science
1.19 The areas of arts and culture and informal science have different dominant aims and objectives. The aims of informal science are primarily about learning and future study and career options while those most commonly identified in arts and culture tend to be about enjoyment, social capital, community and inclusion.
1.20 There are benefits in sharing learning from research across the areas of arts and culture and informal science in order to better understand the impact of childhood exposure on adult participation.
1.21 Research on the impact of childhood exposure in both areas finds that experiences in childhood do have an impact on adult participation.
1.22 The variables which influence participation and engagement in both childhood and adulthood include family support and interest, socio economic circumstances and frequency of engagement with activities.
1.23 There is little longitudinal research in these areas. There are few studies based on data relating to Scotland and the UK and not many large scale research studies which examine childhood exposure and adulthood participation.
1.24 The influence of digital media and traditional media such as television should be taken into account in research on arts and culture and informal science.
1.25 Researchers in the areas of arts and culture and informal science suggest that there is a need to develop a greater body of research on the long term impact of childhood experiences on adults' engagement.