Major Research Initiatives
Interpretation Effectiveness at Taylor Creek Visitor Center
A report on interpretation effectiveness at Taylor Creek Visitor Center (TCVC), Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit is available (Ward, et al. 2003). Objectives included socio-demographic characteristics, an assessment of interpretive needs, preferences and expectations, and measures of sign use and visitor satisfaction. On-site data collection during July, 2002, used self-report questionnaires (n= 406), personal interviews (n= 182), and unobtrusive observations (n=172). The data were analyzed to evaluate the overall effectiveness of two separate interpretive trails (Smokey's and Rainbow), the Information Building, and the Stream Profile Chamber.
Visitor characteristics (age, education, household income, group size and type) are included along with visitor experience data (sign use, satisfaction with the site and memorable details).
Information needs and uses data shows that visitors sought out, used, and were satisfied with the interpretive information found on site. While on the site, almost half of visitors sought out the self-guided signed trails (46%) and brochures/pamphlets (45%). Visitors were highly satisfied: over 88 percent of them responded that they had their information needs fully met while on-site.
The study also showed that interpretive signs and messages were sought out, used and effective at communicating the intended messages. There was consistency in the main messages visitors remembered from the site. The various trail themes were the most cited messages. In addition, the specific themes of the individual trails were frequently cited as a prominent message.
Visitors rated the overall quality of the information in the signs as very high and thought the reading level was OK. Visitors spent an average of 23 seconds at each individual interpretive sign located throughout the site. This suggests that visitors had time to read about 100 words per sign, which is adequate to read most of the text on most of the interpretive signs. The seven most effective signs were interactive, short, colorful, and/or offered something different from the others, and seem to be the effective at making visitors more mindful.
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