A design-based research approach to museum exhibit engineering

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The presentation outlines my PhD project: progress so far and future plans. The project uses a design-based research approach to generate theoretically based ideas for improving exhibit engineering. The project is based on a case study of the exhibit "Cave Expedition", an immersion exhibit about animal adaptations to darkness.

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  • A design-based research approach to museum exhibit engineering

    1. 1. Didactical engineering of museum exhibitions The case of a museum exhibit on animal adaptations to darkness
    2. 2. Background <ul><li>Museums often state their objectives in terms of visitor educational outcomes </li></ul><ul><li>The primary medium for museum educational activities is the exhibition </li></ul><ul><li>In spite of this, there is no body of theoretical or empirical work to guide exhibition design </li></ul><ul><li>Existing museum research... </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Focuses on visitor learning rather than exhibition content </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Seeks general strategies to support learning in museums </li></ul></ul>
    3. 3. Design-based research <ul><li>Problem-based approach </li></ul><ul><li>Content-specific approach </li></ul><ul><li>Pragmatic aspect: “engineering” particular forms of teaching </li></ul><ul><li>Theoretical aspect: developing content-specific theories </li></ul>(Cobb et al., 2003)
    4. 4. Case Cave Expedition (Experimentarium, Copenhagen)
    5. 5. Content Cave Expedition (Experimentarium, Copenhagen) Adaptations of the blind cave beetle to its environment of permanently dark caves
    6. 6. Project overview Design (exhibit engineering) Enactment (visitors - exhibit) Analysis (synthesis of model) RQ: Which factors, related to the scientific content or the exhibit objectives, affect the engineering of an exhibit? RQ: Which relationships exist between the characteristics of exhibit engineering and those of visitors’ experiences? RQ: Can re-engineering of an exhibit, based on empirical findings synthesised with education theory, engender visitor experiences that better reflect the stated objectives? (Design-based research collective, 2003)
    7. 7. Design Exhibition engineering <ul><li>Ecologies of knowledge </li></ul><ul><li>Didactical transposition </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Delineates the processes that make an object of teaching from an object of knowledge to be taught </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Content-specific approach to teaching </li></ul></ul>(Chevallard, 1985)
    8. 8. Source knowledge context Muscle cell Red blood cell Nerve cell Transposition Teaching context Prototypical animal cell (c.f. Clément, 2007)
    9. 9. Museographic transposition ( adapted from Simonneaux & Jacobi, 1997 )
    10. 10. Content Adaptations of the blind cave beetle to its environment of permanently dark caves
    11. 12. Cave ( environment ) Abiotic factors Biotic factors Cave beetle (organism) Morphological adaptations Physiological adaptations Behavioural adaptations clawed feet reduced eyes tricho- bothria elongated antennae elongated legs CO 2 tolerance slow, methodical movement reduced pigment reduced wings steno- hygrobia chemo- reception tactile sense prey predators enclosed space saturated atmosphere high CO 2 uneven surfaces permanent darkness pools and drips vibration detection Scientific knowledge
    12. 14. Knowledge ecology of the Cave Expedition exhibit
    13. 15. Knowledge ecology of the Cave Expedition exhibit <ul><li>Visitors will find out how animals […] are adapted to survive under stressful conditions </li></ul><ul><li>Visitors will experience [the] stress factors that animals have to tolerate in order to survive </li></ul><ul><li>“ We wanted to put the visitor in the place of the [beetle]” (Exhibition engineer I, 2007) </li></ul><ul><li>“ The intent was to let the visitor pretend to be the animal” (Exhibition engineer II, 2007) </li></ul>
    14. 16. Cave (environment) Abiotic factors Biotic factors Cave beetle (organism) Morphological adaptations Physiological adaptations Behavioural adaptations clawed feet reduced eyes tricho- bothria elongated antennae elongated legs CO 2 tolerance slow, methodical movement reduced pigment reduced wings steno- hygrobia chemo- reception tactile sense prey predators enclosed space saturated atmosphere high CO 2 uneven surfaces permanent darkness pools and drips vibration detection Cave beetle (visitor) Cave (exhibit) Abiotic factors darkness enclosed space uneven surfaces Biotic factors
    15. 17. “ These are the types of animals you’d find in caves. These are the animals that would prey on the beetles [in the wild]” (Exhibition engineer I, 2007)
    16. 18. Cave (environment) Abiotic factors Biotic factors Cave beetle (organism) Morphological adaptations Physiological adaptations Behavioural adaptations clawed feet reduced eyes tricho- bothria elongated antennae elongated legs CO 2 tolerance slow, methodical movement reduced pigment reduced wings steno- hygrobia chemo- reception tactile sense prey predators enclosed space saturated atmosphere high CO 2 uneven surfaces permanent darkness pools and drips vibration detection Cave beetle (visitor) Cave (exhibit) Abiotic factors darkness enclosed space uneven surfaces Biotic factors predators transient sightless- ness Behavioural adaptations slow methodical movement recruit tactile sense
    17. 19. Exhibition milieu Cave (environment) Abiotic factors Biotic factors Cave beetle (organism) Behavioural adaptations slow, methodical movement tactile sense predators enclosed space uneven surfaces permanent darkness Cave beetle (visitor) Cave (exhibit) Abiotic factors darkness enclosed space uneven surfaces Biotic factors predators Behavioural adaptations slow methodical movement recruit tactile sense transient sightless- ness
    18. 20. <ul><li>The investigation of museographic transposition gave rise to </li></ul><ul><ul><li>A descriptive model of exhibition engineering that could answer the RQ: Which factors, related to the scientific content or the exhibit objectives, affect the engineering of an exhibit? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>A starting point for the next part of the project: enactment </li></ul></ul>Design Exhibition engineering
    19. 21. Enactment The visitor and the exhibit <ul><li>RQ: Which relationships exist between the characteristics of the exhibit’s engineering and the experiences of visitors </li></ul><ul><li>Socio-cultural approach </li></ul><ul><li>Multiple data sources </li></ul>
    20. 22. What is it supposed to be, the exhibit you just visited? What makes it a cave, in your opinion? How did you find your way, inside? Exhibition milieu Cave (exhibit) Abiotic factors Biotic factors Cave beetle (visitor) Behavioural adaptations slow, methodical movement tactile sense predators enclosed space uneven surfaces permanent darkness Cave (exhibit) transient sightless- ness Abiotic factors darkness enclosed space uneven surfaces recruit tactile sense Behavioural adaptations slow methodical movement transient sightless- ness
    21. 23. Analysis Synthesis of model <ul><li>RQ: Can re-engineering of an exhibit, based on empirical findings synthesised with education theory, engender visitor experiences that better reflect the stated objectives? </li></ul><ul><li>Theory generation </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Analogy </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Founder notions </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Theory of drama </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>… </li></ul></ul>
    22. 24. Summary <ul><li>Overarching paradigm: design-based research </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Theory of knowledge: knowledge ecologies </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Theory of learning: socio-constructivism </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Theory of teaching: „exhibition theory“ </li></ul></ul>

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