Date: December 2007
Creator: Cook, Bettye Alexander
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, ...
Contributing Partner: UNT Libraries