The Professionalization of Museum Educators: The Case in Science Museums

Museum Management and Curatorship 06/2007; 22:131-149. DOI: 10.1080/09647770701470328

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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Available from: Lynn Uyen Tran, Apr 07, 2015
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    02/2013; 4(2):123-146. DOI:10.1080/21548455.2013.788802
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    ABSTRACT: This paper reports the findings from an interview study with 24 educators from 10 museums in England. The investigation looked at how educators characterise their work and how their work is organised. The analytical framework of this investigation draws on sociological discussions on professionalism. The findings show that there is shared conception of what museum educators do and that a technical language to talk about their work is emerging. However, further development may be effected by the diversity in educators’ educational backgrounds. Furthermore, the way work is divided in some (large) institutions directly challenges the integrity and expert knowledge of the practitioners, which may ultimately impede the occupation from truly becoming a profession. The findings have implications for researchers and practitioners interested in science teaching in museum environments, and to the professionalisation of museum education.
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