03 SES 06 A, Interdisciplinary Curriculum Design
Internationally, the importance of museums as significant and valued educational venues has been well-documented (Falk & Dierking, 1997; Kelly, 2011). This is not surprising, considering there are over 55,000 museums in the world (Lochar, Meinhold & Toma, 2011). However, DeWitt and Hohenstein (2010) claim that excursions are a ‘missed educational opportunity’ (p.61). Museums can provide opportunities for both formal and informal learning. Along with the museum’s formal learning programs, informal learning in the museum environment can include exploration within galleries, interactive exhibits and spontaneous discussion (Birney, 1988). This unique learning environment provides significant opportunities for engagement with objects, knowledge and information in a different form to what is available in the classroom environment (Kelly, 2011). Museum environments and associated online resources have changed drastically in the past few decades. DeWitt and Hohenstein (2010) acknowledge that museum experiences can impact on cognitive and affective learning and in addition to the museum experience, ‘evidence suggests that when pupils are actively involved in their classroom experiences, conceptual learning is enhanced’ (p. 44). Therefore, possibilities for maximising the potential of both educational contexts to support learning through museum-school partnerships and curriculum development should be explored.
Studies focusing on learning in museums generally use data collected before and after the excursion experience to determine the impact on student learning (as reported in Bamberger, 2017). Other studies focus on the importance of social interaction to support learning in museums using sociocultural perspectives (Vygotsky, 1978) or on how schools need to support classroom learning to experiences beyond the classroom (Bamberger, 2017). The purpose of this project is to focus on museums as a unique educational experience, as well as to understand the extent to which it is used in context to complement and extend classroom-based curricula. Teachers organise excursions to the museum for a range of purposes, but the way that teachers view and use the excursion experience in the context of the curriculum is under-researched. This project draws on current research about classroom and museum venues and how they can be used as part of a curriculum sequence to enhance student learning. In particular, this project conceptualises the museum experience as a well-connected adjunct to classroom activities; an integral component of a well-planned instructional program that anticipates, orchestrates, integrates and builds upon the museum experience. This includes exploring curriculum design and implementation, the role of the teacher, the role of museum educators and the impact that a contemporary museum context has on learning. This project has a strong focus on teachers’ and students’ perspectives.
- How are excursions at the museum planned by teachers and for what purpose?
- To what extent do classroom and museum learning experiences complement and mutually enhance each other to facilitate deep learning?
- What strategies can be used to enhance student learning about key concepts and skills before, during and after visits to the museum?
The qualitative Design Experiment methodology will be utilised for this project. Using current research and practice in classroom and museum settings, this methodology allows for the design of interventions in complex social settings in order to research student learning and develop theory (Cobb et al. 2003). Participants • Teachers (≈ 50) that attend the Melbourne Museum in term 1, 2018 will be invited to complete a short survey. • Two year 5/6 classes from one school will be invited to participate in this project Methods Phase 1 Teacher surveys will be used during term 1 to gain teachers’ perspectives about how and why they decided to use the Museum as an excursion venue. Key information will include the purpose of the visit, why the venue was chosen, what learning areas were being addressed and the focus of the lessons in the classroom preceding and following the museum experience. Teachers who provide contact details will be sent another survey about post excursion activities that were completed. Phase 2 Planning Documents: Museum and university staff will work collaboratively with a school professional learning team to develop a plan for learning (Unit of Work) that seamlessly integrates skills and knowledge across the school and museum settings and are most suitable for student engagement Phase 3 Audio recordings: The Unit of Work will be implemented and incorporate three visits to the museum and two students will be audio-recorded during each excursion. This will provide a unique learners’ perspective and allow for interaction analyses. Post-implementation teacher interviews: The two teachers participating in the project will be interviewed to gain their perspective on the impact the project has had on students’ learning. Work samples and post-implementation student surveys: Work samples and a short online survey will be used in order to capture students’ perspectives about the impact the project has had on their learning.
Expected Outcomes In the short term, the initial impact will be on the teachers and students participating in the project. The project will also generate valuable data that will provide insights into learning in museums for teachers, university and museum staff. Outcome 1: Strengthen the link between schools and the museum in a way that supports student learning by connecting the museum experience much more closely with classroom-based instruction. • Recommendations regarding the optimal integration of museum and classroom experiences will be developed by generating data through a survey to develop an understanding about the purpose, form and function of museum visits. A key focus will be how the museum experience is situated within a unit of work that targets different learning areas such as science and the humanities. Outcome 2: Development of an innovative curriculum that is complemented by museum visits and includes pre-excursion activities, on-site learning experiences and post-visit activities. • Using the information listed in outcome 1, museum and university staff will work with a year level planning team to support the development of a unit of work that includes a series of museum visits. Outcome 3: Enhance teachers’ skills, knowledge and confidence when teaching the Humanities through collaboration with the museum, university and school staff. • Museum and university staff will provide professional development if necessary to support teachers’ skills, knowledge and confidence when teaching the Humanities. Outcome 4: Support and enhance student learning of key concepts and skills through targeted learning experiences. This innovative approach to teaching and learning will be supported through strong partnerships. The key purpose is to have a positive impact on student learning. Student learning will be continually monitored through audio-recordings and work samples.
Bamberger, Y., & Tal, R. (2008). Multiple outcomes of class visits to natural history museums: The students’ view. Journal of Science Education and Technology, 17(3), 274-284. Birney, B. (1988). Criteria for successful museum and zoo visits: Children offer guidance. Curator, 31, 292-316. Cobb, P., Confrey, J., DiSessa, A., Lehrer, R., & Schauble, L. (2003). Design Experiments in Educational Research. Educational Researcher, 32(1), 9-13. DeWitt, J. and Hohenstein, J. (2010). Supporting student learning: A comparison of student discussion in museums and classrooms. Visitor Studies, 13(1), 41-66. Falk, J., and Dierking, L. (1997). School field trips: Assessing their long-term Impact. Curator, 40(3), 211-218. Kelly, L. (2011). Student learning in museums: What do we know? Report prepared for The Sovereign Hill Museums Association. Retrieved from https://musdigi.files.wordpress.com/2014/09/student-learning-in-museums-col-lr.pdf Lochar, R., Meinhold, A., Toma, H., (2011). Museums of the World (18th ed.). München: De Gruyter Saur. Vygotsky, L. (1997). Mind in society. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
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