Adult museum visitors' learning identities


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Final thesis presentation given at AARE 2006 conference

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Adult museum visitors' learning identities

  1. 1. Visitors and learners: A dult museum visitors’ learning identities Lynda Kelly, University of Technology, Sydney
  2. 2. Research questions <ul><li>What are the interrelationships between adult museum visitors’ views of learning and their learning experiences at a museum? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Relationships between learning, education and entertainment </li></ul></ul><ul><li>How does a visit to a museum exhibition interact with an adult visitors’ learning identity? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>How does the roles played during a visit influence learning identity? </li></ul></ul>
  3. 3. The challenges we face … <ul><li>Conceptual shift for museums … </li></ul><ul><ul><li>education to learning </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>responding to learners & communities </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>lifelong learning & educational leisure </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>demonstrate outcomes/performance </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Visitors’ learning agendas </li></ul><ul><li>Confusion between learning & education </li></ul><ul><li>Dumbing down & entertainment </li></ul><ul><li>“ Thematise” learning </li></ul>
  4. 4. <ul><li>Stage One: Individual </li></ul><ul><li>Pilot studies (n=7) </li></ul><ul><li>In-depth interviews (n=8) </li></ul><ul><li>Questionnaire (n=100) </li></ul><ul><li>Telephone survey (n=300) </li></ul><ul><li>Literature Review: Identity and Learning </li></ul><ul><li>General learning theories </li></ul><ul><li>Theories influencing museum learning </li></ul><ul><li>How word “learning” has been researched </li></ul><ul><li>General definitions of identity </li></ul><ul><li>Identity and museums </li></ul><ul><li>How identity has been researched in museums </li></ul><ul><li>Stage Two: Sociocultural </li></ul><ul><li>Five families; five couples: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Pre & post-visit interviews </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Observations </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Conversation analysis </li></ul></ul>
  5. 5. Literature findings <ul><li>Learning is </li></ul><ul><ul><li>an essential part of being human </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>linked to identity & sense of self </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>about change </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Education is </li></ul><ul><ul><li>imposed, formal, prescriptive … </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>negative! </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Identity is </li></ul><ul><ul><li>how a person sees themselves & how others see them </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>changing </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>shaped by social context & community membership </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>past, present & future </li></ul></ul>
  6. 6. Museums as places for ‘identity work’ (Rounds, 2006, p.133-150) <ul><li>‘… the processes through which we construct, maintain, and adapt our sense of personal identity, and persuade other people to believe in that identity’ </li></ul><ul><li>Focus on what people are doing about their identity </li></ul>
  7. 7. Learning identity <ul><li>How an individual’s see themselves as a learner; </li></ul><ul><li>within a sociocultural context; </li></ul><ul><li>including future views of self as a learner; and </li></ul><ul><li>the role learning plays across a person’s life. </li></ul>
  8. 8. <ul><li>PLACE </li></ul><ul><li>school </li></ul><ul><li>museums, galleries, </li></ul><ul><li>cultural institutions </li></ul><ul><li>libraries </li></ul><ul><li>Internet </li></ul><ul><li>environment/nature </li></ul><ul><li>life </li></ul>MUSEUM LEARNING <ul><li>PROCESS </li></ul><ul><li>“ doing something”: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>gathering </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>choosing </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>understanding </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>applying </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>linking </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>discovering </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>assimilating </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>acquiring </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>expanding </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>exploring </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>increasing </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>reminiscing </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>explaining </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>accumulating </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>questioning </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>thinking </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>hands-on </li></ul></ul><ul><li>facts & ideas </li></ul><ul><li>objects & tools </li></ul><ul><li>short & long-term </li></ul><ul><li>cognitive & physical </li></ul><ul><li>surface & deep </li></ul><ul><li>PURPOSE </li></ul><ul><li>motivation </li></ul><ul><li>interests </li></ul><ul><li>enjoyment </li></ul><ul><li>change </li></ul><ul><li>choice </li></ul><ul><li>PEOPLE </li></ul><ul><li>family </li></ul><ul><li>friends, colleagues </li></ul><ul><li>work peers </li></ul><ul><li>community </li></ul><ul><li>professionals: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>museum staff </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>teachers </li></ul></ul><ul><li>PERSON </li></ul><ul><li>prior knowledge </li></ul><ul><li>experience </li></ul><ul><li>role </li></ul><ul><li>gender </li></ul><ul><li>cultural background </li></ul><ul><li>lived history </li></ul><ul><li>personal interest </li></ul><ul><li>personal change </li></ul><ul><li>meaning making </li></ul><ul><li>seeing in different way </li></ul>
  9. 9. PERSON <ul><li>Expanding your knowledge, a new aspect on life (Interview #11) </li></ul><ul><li>Finding your place in the world. Engaging with the world in a way to discover more about it and make sense of things. That’s the big picture (Interview #40) </li></ul><ul><li>Being able to put pieces of information together [to] draw conclusions (Interview #71) </li></ul><ul><li>New things that add to your body of knowledge (Interview #78) </li></ul>
  10. 10. PEOPLE … sometimes we’d bounce off something of interest to ourselves, then we’d look at it a bit more, wander off. Then we’d come together a few times to have a look at things. … I also learned a bit more about my friends. I didn’t know they had an interest in [tattoos] either, and you sort of learn more of what they’re about as well . (Interview Transcript 3.4, 24/02/01)
  11. 11. PROCESS <ul><li>Opening the mind to new experience (Interview #4) </li></ul><ul><li>Acquiring new knowledge and applying that (Interview #5) </li></ul><ul><li>Expanding your knowledge about an area by a variety of means (Interview #11) </li></ul><ul><li>An understanding of how things work (Interview #42) </li></ul>
  12. 12. PURPOSE Obviously [learning is] something that’s not boring, something that’s not passive, so it’s more of an active thing … Something where you choose to be involved, that you’re interested in doing. (Interview Transcript 3.1, 22/11/00)
  13. 13. PLACE 1 <ul><li>Libraries </li></ul><ul><li>Museums, galleries, other cultural institutions </li></ul><ul><li>University, school, formal education </li></ul><ul><li>Internet </li></ul><ul><li>Holiday destinations, the environment </li></ul>
  14. 14. PLACE 2 Eddie. Look at the seahorses. Cath. Like the one in the salt water. Bree. They’re just so cute and they swim along… Eddie. I’d hate to be bitten by these fish, look at the teeth! Cath. But they don’t normally attack. … When we go to Port Stephens next week we should go and find the white seahorses. Wouldn’t that be mad if we see one and we go, that’s a white seahorse. The guy’s going to just look at us [and go] how do you know that!
  15. 15. Differences <ul><li>Varied responses to word learning </li></ul><ul><li>General language differed </li></ul><ul><ul><li>learning = active </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>education = process </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Choice </li></ul><ul><li>Education delivers learning </li></ul><ul><li>Entertainment described differently: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>fleeting, short-term, good time </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>uses all senses </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>feelings & emotions </li></ul></ul>
  16. 17. Learning is <ul><li>Lifelong & lifewide </li></ul><ul><li>Fluid </li></ul><ul><ul><li>changes with the context </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Adaptive </li></ul><ul><li>Active </li></ul><ul><li>Shared & solitary </li></ul><ul><li>Meaning making </li></ul><ul><li>An integral part of identity </li></ul>
  17. 18. Learning identity changed <ul><li>learning more than thought they would (F1) </li></ul><ul><li>being surprised that they talked a great deal more than usual (F2) </li></ul><ul><li>discovering a range of new animals related to ones they already knew about (F5) </li></ul><ul><li>changing from a “top-level reader-learner” to becoming absorbed and reading all the texts (F5) </li></ul><ul><li>being surprised at what they discovered about nature, realising if Museum didn’t have these things we would never know about them (C4) </li></ul>
  18. 19. Learning identity did not change: exhibition matched it <ul><li>C3: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>taking what we know and making connections from what is in that to the exhibition </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>read and process </li></ul></ul>
  19. 20. Learning identity did not change: reinforced how not like to learn <ul><li>F3: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Immersive learner forced to use browsing strategies </li></ul></ul><ul><li>F4: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Not engaging enough for the whole family </li></ul></ul><ul><li>C1: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Not enough challenge </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Didn’t engage them emotionally </li></ul></ul><ul><li>C2: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Not enough deep layers of information </li></ul></ul>
  20. 21. THREE ROLES PLAYED <ul><li>Visit manager </li></ul><ul><li>Museum expert </li></ul><ul><li>Learning-facilitator </li></ul>
  21. 22. Visit manager Liz. Let’s look down the back; check if there’s anything down there we need to see. Liz. Shall we go and have a look back there? We might find something that you like Paul.
  22. 23. Museum expert Rox. How do they catch them, Mum? I wonder what they put them in a bottle for? Mary. So you can see them, ‘cos the backs are white, so you can see them better. Tara. Eoww, disgusting! Look at the little bugs … with a needle through them. Liz. Well that’s just to hold them in place. Art. That’s from India again. Dot. I know, I wonder where they find them. Just walking along? Art. I don’t know, probably dug up from somewhere. Caves, mines, it doesn’t say.
  23. 24. Learner-facilitator Kay. Come and look at this. What is that? Where’s that from Zeke? Zeke. Bali. Kay. Yes, good boy. Zeke. I knew that. Kay. How did you know that? Zeke. Because it has all these on it “Javanese and Balinese” [reading from text] in the second line. I’ll tell you why I knew it was Balinese, because I saw those little gold things in Bali.
  24. 25. SHARING LEARNING Rick. Hey Kate look at these ones, how’s that for a shell? Kate. That’s an unusual one. Toni. That’s beautiful. Kate. Were shells alive, are shells alive? Rick. They’ve got things inside them. Toni. Molluscs in them. Kate. But are the actual shells alive? Toni. No. Rick. They’re a shell. Toni. I think the shell is the shell of the mollusc that originally lived in them, like a snail. Kate. So they’re part of something? Toni. They’re part of something that was, yes.
  25. 26. LINKING TO PRIOR, PRESENT & FUTURE LIFE EXPERIENCES <ul><li>Kate. Are they stick insects? </li></ul><ul><li>Toni. Some of them are. That’s at the end of Lord Howe Island, Ball’s Pyramid. </li></ul><ul><li>Kate. Did we sail past that? </li></ul><ul><li>Toni. We didn’t sail past that but we flew nearby. You could see it from the top of the mountain Daddy climbed. Look at the frogs. Look at the size of those. Not like our piddly little ones. </li></ul><ul><li>Kate. Like that small one? [points] </li></ul><ul><li>Toni. Ours would be like that. </li></ul>
  26. 27. Implications <ul><li>PLACE </li></ul><ul><li>access huge range of </li></ul><ul><li>places in learning </li></ul><ul><li>relaxed physical environment </li></ul><ul><li>make links </li></ul><ul><li>PROCESS </li></ul><ul><li>collections & objects </li></ul><ul><li>layered information </li></ul><ul><li>personal stories </li></ul><ul><li>critical thinking </li></ul><ul><li>questions & answers </li></ul><ul><li>PURPOSE </li></ul><ul><li>People visit to learn , to be educated </li></ul><ul><li>and to be entertained </li></ul><ul><li>in an exciting & stimulating environment </li></ul><ul><li>that is enjoyable for them & all group members </li></ul><ul><li>PEOPLE </li></ul><ul><li>sharing </li></ul><ul><li>conversations </li></ul><ul><li>roles </li></ul><ul><li>application </li></ul><ul><li>parents </li></ul><ul><li>PERSON </li></ul><ul><li>visitors & learners </li></ul><ul><li>fluidity </li></ul><ul><li>multiple roles </li></ul><ul><li>gender </li></ul><ul><li>front-end evaluation </li></ul><ul><li>application </li></ul><ul><li>meaning making </li></ul>
  27. 28. Museums shape identities <ul><li>Through access to objects & information visitors see reflections of themselves & their culture that encourage: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>new connections; </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>meaning-making; and </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>changes to how they see themselves as learners … </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>their learning identities. </li></ul></ul></ul>