Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Beginning audience research

This from my dear ex-Museum colleague Gary Morgan: Dear Lynda. I am at a small cultural centre and museum in Malawi as a volunteer. I have set a research project on audience evaluation for one of the staff who wants to do research but has no training. We are assessing impacts of the museum on audience learning. Can you send any reprints you may have spare? We have nothing much on audience evaluation or museum learning other than what I have been able to get off the web. Our address is KuNgoni Centre of Culture and Art, PO Box 41, Mtakataka, Malawi. We don't have email on site so I can't respond quickly over the web.

I think it's inspiring that a small, tucked-away place like that is doing audience research and on museum learning no less! Thought I'd blog my response so that others can add to my list (plus so I'd remember what I promised to send). I have also posted Gary's address so others can send things – I would imagine samples of surveys and questions would be the most help.

So, Gary I will send you:

  • My doctorate – I have a spare marking copy. The literature review on learning (Chapter 2) is helpful as is Chapter 3 (method) and the appendices that have my questionnaires. These are also on my audience research wiki. I also just uploaded my Stage 2 questionnaire which I used to look at learning in more detail (both Word and pdf formats)
  • Surveys from the MARVEL project that looked at a variety of ways to uncover learning outcomes
  • Families and Museums research project report
  • A copy of Paulette McManus's article: Towards Understanding the Needs of Museum Visitors (1991), which is a good resource about the types of questions that could be asked. It's also on my list of audience research readings which can be downloaded from my website here

Gary, there are a number of questions I have found work really well when looking at learning:

  • The dinner party question: Can you think of one thing that you found particularly interesting in the XXX exhibition that you would be likely to tell other people about, say at a dinner party?
  • The Project team question: This exhibition has been developed by a team of staff from across the Museum. What do you think were the main messages they were trying to get across to visitors?
  • The MARVEL list (they answer this by Yes/alot; Yes/somewhat; No/not really; Not at all; Don't know):
    • I discovered things I didn't know
    • I learned more about things I already knew
    • I remembered things I hadn't thought of for awhile
    • I shared some of my knowledge with other people
    • I got curious about finding out more about some things
    • I was reminded of the importance of some issues
    • I got a real buzz out of what I learned
    • It was pleasant to be reminded and to learn more
    • It was all very familiar to me
    • Some of the things I learned will be very useful to me

Best of luck and please keep us all informed of how you're going.

1 comment:

LyndaK said...

This response from Gary:
Lynda, Received the package thanks. Will be of great use to Boniface I hope. Your thesis is particularly good for further reading (but of course, there is no access to any museum publications in Malawi). Are you now PhD? Thanks again, and best to any mutual friends. I see you continue to work with Janette and Des. Give them my regards.

Thanks Gary - I am PhD, I do still see the Griffins and your former Museum colleagues wish you all the very best.