Saturday, March 22, 2008

Researching museum learning

This from Karen Koch in Germany: I got to your homepage by searching for museums evaluations and think it is a fantastic way to communicate with other people in this field. I am an education student from Germany and am writing my diploma thesis about a study done in 12 childrens museums (total 1350 kids). The topic is "Learning in children`s museums". We asked the children "what do you remember from your visit? What did you like best? What didn`t you like? What did you learn?" My work now is to investigate quality criterions about what children want in museums and how learning will be better working. (a basic example: a lot of the kids love to do something, so we need hands-on exhibits) In Germany there was no evaluation like this before even though we of course now about the theory in the children`s museums field. I am looking now for evaluations in this field to compare them. Unfortunately I haven`t found anything like that yet. Do you know if there was an evaluation like this in Australia, the USA England or somewhere else? It would really help me out a lot!

Hi Karen, I don't know where you've been looking but there is an enormous amount of material on learning in museums and quite a lot in children's museums. The best place to start is to read Chapter 2 of my thesis which can be found on my audience research wiki. The bibliography is very comprehensive (even if I say so myself J). Other good references to start with are the following:

  • Leinhardt, G., Crowley, K., & Knutson, K. (Eds.). (2002). Learning Conversations in Museums. Mahwah: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
  • Paris, S. (Ed.). (2002). Perspectives on Object-Centered Learning in Museums. Mahwah: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
  • Hooper-Greenhill, E. (2004). Measuring Learning Outcomes in Museums, Archives and Libraries: The Learning Impact Research Project (LIRP). International Journal of Heritage Studies, 10(2), 151-174.
  • Griffin, J., Kelly, L., Hatherly, J., & Savage, G. (2005). Museums actively researching visitor experiences and learning (MARVEL): a methodological study. Open Museum Journal, 7
    (Note: I have added this link even though it doesn't work because it should work soon I hope…)

The Association of Children's Museums has online resources about learning and their Hand to Hand publication has good articles about learning in children's museums.


Fay said...

Hi I am doing a piece of research for a National Museum in the UK as part of my MA in Museum studies. I am evaluating the way in which the learning offer is marketed to schools. This is presently done using a brochure sent out to schools 3 times a year, using the museum website and through INSET. I am interviewing visiting teachers and contacting non-visiting schools. I was wondering whether any other research has been done already like this and is it available. I have tried emailing other museums but have had little response. Fay

LyndaK said...

That's an interesting question - how best to market to schools? I don't know of any research that specifically looks at this area, but one recurring theme from general studies I have done with teachers is that they want an e-newsletter directed to them personally as most of their snail mail goes astray. When our website rebuild goes live next year we'll use the members function to communicate with teachers. In our user testing studies the other week they were very interested in this. The younger teachers/trainee teachers could also see the value of social networking sites, altho we'll be keeping an eye on this as who knows where this will go in the next 12 months.