The Professionalization of Museum Educators: The Case in Science Museums
ABSTRACT Museum educators have a longstanding presence and importance in museums, but there is limited recognition and understanding of their work, both in research and practice. Investigations into the pedagogical actions of educators in science museums suggest that educators do not share a common understanding of best practice, which may be due to the absence of professional preparation grounded in a recognized knowledge base. To ensure quality and credibility of museum education work, and for the occupation to complete its professionaliza- tion process, a knowledge base is needed. Thus, we offer a framework upon which the professional work of museum educators may be grounded. This knowledge framework comprises six components: context, choice and motivation, objects, content, theories of learning, and talk, which are organized into three domains of knowledge: museum content knowledge, museum pedagogical knowledge, and museum contextual knowledge.
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ABSTRACT: This study explored the nature of the relationship between a fifth-grade teacher and an informal science educator as they planned and implemented a life science unit in the classroom, and sought to define this relationship in order to gain insight into the roles of each educator. In addition, student learning as a result of instruction was assessed. Prior research has predominately examined relationships and roles of groups of teachers and informal educators in the museum setting (Tal et al. in Sci Educ 89:920–935, 2005; Tal and Steiner in Can J Sci Math Technol Educ 6:25–46, 2006; Tran 2007). The current study utilized case study methodology to examine one relationship (between two educators) in more depth and in a different setting—an elementary classroom. The relationship was defined through a framework of cooperation, coordination, and collaboration (Buck 1998; Intriligator 1986, 1992) containing eight dimensions. Findings suggest a relationship of coordination, which requires moderate commitment, risk, negotiation, and involvement, and examined the roles that each educator played and how they negotiated these roles. Consistent with previous examinations in science education of educator roles, the informal educator’s role was to provide the students with expertise and resources not readily available to them. The roles played by the classroom teacher included classroom management, making connections to classroom activities and curricula, and clarifying concepts. Both educators’ perceptions suggested they were at ease with their roles and that they felt these roles were critical to the optimization of the short time frames (1 h) the informal educator was in the classroom. Pre and posttest tests demonstrated students learned as a result of the programs.Journal of Science Teacher Education 03/2013;
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ABSTRACT: Science educators in informal environments such as science centers and museums affect people’s learning experiences, as they create and implement the educational programs and exhibits to support science learning. The educators are the human interfaces between the institutions’ collections, the knowledge and culture that are represented, and the visiting public. Previous studies suggest that educators apply a range of strategies in their interactions with visitors that account for the learners’ levels of interest and understanding, and as such serve to scaffold the learning experience. However, it also appears that educators may not have an explicit understanding of how educational techniques may best be used. In addition, while educators have a diversity of knowledge and backgrounds resulting in arguably valuable varied expertise, such diversity may also be an impediment as staff do not share a common understanding and language for how they approach and talk about their work. We propose a common body of knowledge that can lead to a shared framework for practice, and provide the basis for pre-service and ongoing professional education among educators who teach science in informal environments. In this chapter, we discuss our six knowledge components underlying the pedagogical knowledge required for science education in informal environments that is shared with, but distinct from, teaching science in schools.02/2011: pages 279-293;
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ABSTRACT: Tour guiding is much-practised and yet little-studied, particularly within the museum sector. Consequently, we have little understanding of the nature of guided tours and this results in untested assumptions forming the basis of training and practice. Because of this lack of knowledge, we cannot capitalise on the opportunities that tours present for museums to engage with their publics; nor can we counteract the challenges which their design and delivery present for the contemporary museum. This article uses detailed studies of guides-in-practice to show that tours are highly interactive pursuits, as opposed to the somewhat pre-scripted ‘lectures’ that they are often considered to be. As such, this paper intends to respecify what a tour is, how guides are trained and managed, and how electronic museum guides are designed and deployed.Museum Management and Curatorship 02/2012; 27(1):35-52.