The Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) in Washington, DC, awarded the National Art Education Association (NAEA) and Association of Art Museum Directors (AAMD) with a National Leadership Grant to fund research that will explore how single-visit programs affect K-12 students’ skills and capacities across five interrelated areas: 1) critical thinking, 2) creative thinking, 3) affective/sensorial response, 4) human connections/empathy, and 5) academic development. These five areas were selected based on previous research, input from museum educators, and theoretical writings. The hypothesis of the research is that, though short in duration, single-visit programs affect students in complex, multi-dimensional ways that are central to the education of young people.
The research design is rigorous to account for the many factors in a student’s life that can affect behavior. There is a control group and two treatment groups. The Control Group will not have experienced a single-visit to an art museum or an in-classroom art lesson. Treatment Group A will have an in-museum experience and Treatment Group B will have an in-classroom experience. We hypothesize that experiential differences will emerge between the Control Group and both treatment groups and between Treatment Group A and Treatment Group B.
NAEA, AAMD, and Randi Korn & Associates (RK&A), the research company selected to conduct the study, will select six museums across the country based on data from the field-wide survey that was administered to all art museums in 2015 with assistance from AAMD and NAEA. The sample of participating museums will:
• Be located across the United States and represent six regions as designated by the American Alliance of Museums
• Be of various sizes (based on the number of full-time education staff in education departments)
• Serve an ample number of students in targeted grade levels (currently grades 4 and 5)
• Serve Title 1 schools
• Have a student-teacher ratio of 16-20 (or fewer) students per facilitator/gallery teacher
• Include 4-5 (or fewer) stops at works of art during gallery program
• Train facilitators in more than one area, such as in art history and inquiry
• Conduct an evaluation/assessment (and implement the results)
• Articulate and apply outcomes to train facilitators
• Apply a constructivist approach in school-tour programs, as demonstrated by high ratings on the survey for the following actions:
– Group dialogue evolves in response to students’ comments and questions
– Facilitators ask open-ended question
– Content emerges organically from the group