A Chronological Study of Experiential Education in the American History Museum

Description:

This study traced the evolution of experiential education in American history museums from 1787 to 2007. Because of a decline in attendance, museum educators need to identify best practices to draw and retain audiences. I used 16 museology and history journals, books, and archives of museums prominent for using the method. I also interviewed 15 museum educators who employ experiential learning, one master interpreter of the National Park Service, and an independent museum exhibit developer. Experiential education involves doing with hands touching physical materials. Four minor questions concerned antecedents of experiential learning, reasons to invest in the method, the influence of social context, and cultural pluralism. Next is a review of the theorists whose works support experiential learning: Dewey, Piaget, Vygotsky, Lewin, Bruner, Eisner, Hein, and David Kolb plus master parks interpreter Freeman Tilden. The 8 characteristics they support include prior experiences, physical action, interaction with the environment, use of the senses, emotion, social relationships, and personal meaning. Other sections are manifestation of experiential learning, transformation of history museums, and cultural pluralism in history museums. The research design is descriptive, and the procedure, document analysis and structured interview. Findings are divided by decades after the first 120 years. Social context, examples of experiential learning, and multicultural activities are detailed. Then findings are discussed by patterns of delivery: sensory experiences, actions as diversion and performance, outreach of traveling trunks and of organized activity, crafts as handwork and as skills, role-playing, simulation, hands-on museum work, and minor patterns. The decline of involvement of citizens in the civic and cultural life of the community has adversely affected history museums. Experiential learning can stop this trend and transform museum work, as open-air museums and the National Park Service have demonstrated. In the future history museums may include technology, a more diverse audience, and adults in its experiential educational plans to thrive. Further research is needed on evaluation, finances, and small museums.

Creator(s): Cook, Bettye Alexander
Creation Date: December 2007
Partner(s):
UNT Libraries
Collection(s):
UNT Theses and Dissertations
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Publisher Info:
Publisher Name: University of North Texas
Place of Publication: Denton, Texas
Date(s):
  • Creation: December 2007
  • Digitized: February 5, 2008
Description:

This study traced the evolution of experiential education in American history museums from 1787 to 2007. Because of a decline in attendance, museum educators need to identify best practices to draw and retain audiences. I used 16 museology and history journals, books, and archives of museums prominent for using the method. I also interviewed 15 museum educators who employ experiential learning, one master interpreter of the National Park Service, and an independent museum exhibit developer. Experiential education involves doing with hands touching physical materials. Four minor questions concerned antecedents of experiential learning, reasons to invest in the method, the influence of social context, and cultural pluralism. Next is a review of the theorists whose works support experiential learning: Dewey, Piaget, Vygotsky, Lewin, Bruner, Eisner, Hein, and David Kolb plus master parks interpreter Freeman Tilden. The 8 characteristics they support include prior experiences, physical action, interaction with the environment, use of the senses, emotion, social relationships, and personal meaning. Other sections are manifestation of experiential learning, transformation of history museums, and cultural pluralism in history museums. The research design is descriptive, and the procedure, document analysis and structured interview. Findings are divided by decades after the first 120 years. Social context, examples of experiential learning, and multicultural activities are detailed. Then findings are discussed by patterns of delivery: sensory experiences, actions as diversion and performance, outreach of traveling trunks and of organized activity, crafts as handwork and as skills, role-playing, simulation, hands-on museum work, and minor patterns. The decline of involvement of citizens in the civic and cultural life of the community has adversely affected history museums. Experiential learning can stop this trend and transform museum work, as open-air museums and the National Park Service have demonstrated. In the future history museums may include technology, a more diverse audience, and adults in its experiential educational plans to thrive. Further research is needed on evaluation, finances, and small museums.

Degree:
Level: Doctoral
Language(s):
Subject(s):
Keyword(s): Experiential education | history museum | museum education | cultural pluralism
Contributor(s):
Partner:
UNT Libraries
Collection:
UNT Theses and Dissertations
Identifier:
  • OCLC: 228816900 |
  • ARK: ark:/67531/metadc5190
Resource Type: Thesis or Dissertation
Format: Text
Rights:
Access: Public
License: Copyright
Holder: Cook, Bettye Alexander
Statement: Copyright is held by the author, unless otherwise noted. All rights reserved.