Theses and Dissertations


Clary, Renee M.

Committee Member

Nagel, Athena Owen

Committee Member

Haney, Christa

Date of Degree


Original embargo terms

Embargo 2 years

Document Type

Graduate Thesis - Open Access


Geoscience (Geology)

Degree Name

Master of Science (M.S.)


College of Arts and Sciences


Department of Geosciences


This study assessed effectiveness of the Dunn-Seiler Museum's Omeka Virtual Platform by comparing student learning after virtual and hands-on informal outreach activities. The research, conducted in two Mississippi middle schools, focused on students’ (N=99) content gains and affective responses when engaging with fossil specimens that illustrate shifts in sea levels in Mississippi’s geological past. Data were categorized into three sections: content, affective response, and drawing portion. This mixed-methods research encompassed scoring student tests, coding student drawings, and identifying stable themes through teacher interviews. Analysis of pre-and post-tests for Control (hands-on) and Experimental (virtual specimens) groups revealed no significant differences in content gain or affective response when the data were aggregated for Control versus Experimental groups. Five themes emerged from qualitative analysis of teacher interviews, including teachers’ perceived importance of classroom novelty. Findings indicate that virtual fossil specimens offer a comparable experience to hands-on specimens in the context of museum outreach.

Available for download on Friday, May 15, 2026