University of Leicester
2020PENGJPhD.pdf (7.96 MB)

How Did That Interactive Make You Feel? Towards a framework for evaluating the emotional and sensory experience of next generation in-gallery technology.

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posted on 2021-04-30, 11:50 authored by Jingyu Peng
This thesis explores a different way of researching and analysing in-gallery digital media. It attempts to understand how visitors feel sensorily and emotionally during the experience of interacting with in-gallery digital media, and to provide the basis of a workable framework to measure these experiences. The work is inspired by both the ‘sensory turn’ in museum studies (that has aimed to uncover a comprehensive understanding of these feelings and sensory engagement), and the arrival of new emerging formats of in-gallery digital technology (that are more likely to involve multi-sensory, highly immersive and shared experience). The thesis investigates how to measure visitors’ experience with in-gallery technologies from a brand-new perspective, beyond the traditional models of usability and learning – and into, instead, emotion and sensation.
The research was conducted at the National Space Centre, Leicester (UK), testing the effectiveness of traditional tools in visitor studies and exploring the appropriateness of new evaluative methods. A series of methods were tested in three evaluative design cycles, each including a combination of interviews, questionnaires, ‘think-aloud’ methods and physiological measurement. Based on the results of measuring sensation and emotion within three different settings within the case study museum (each representing a different format of digital technology), the thesis not only offers a practical guide to museums, but proposes six core principles on approaching this new framework for evaluative design: differentiate; expand; combine; extend; contextualise; and scale.
The findings of the research are intended to highlight the importance of adopting a time-based, non-verbal and non-filtered understanding and measurement of experience. Ultimately, however, the thesis identifies not only the importance of understanding in sensory and emotional terms the impact of digitally created environments on visitor experience, but also the value of using a new set of theoretical informants and theoretical foundations for digital heritage and museum studies research.



Ross Parry; Giasemi Vavoula

Date of award


Author affiliation

School of Museum Studies

Awarding institution

University of Leicester

Qualification level

  • Doctoral

Qualification name

  • PhD



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