Classes

Museum Education: Learning Theories and Approaches, Fall 2018 (Co-Instructor)

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This active learning weekend examines learning theories that have shaped – and are shaping – the development of programs and exhibitions in museums and similar informal learning environments.
We will explore the wide variety of ways learning happens in museums, focusing on the visitors themselves, and consider how museums are shifting their focus from designing for their audiences to creating with them. Students will consider museum education from the lenses of both learner and educator, experiencing and reflecting on educational approaches in actual museum galleries....
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Museum Evaluation: Survey Development and Implementation, Fall 2017 (Co-Instructor)

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Surveys are an important basic way to collect information about audiences and their experiences, preferences, motivations, and backgrounds - in museums as well as other organizations.  Data about audiences are key to informed organizational decision-making and to demonstrating outcomes for funders and other stakeholders.  This active learning weekend offers an introduction to survey development and implementation, including survey design, item writing, and data collection.  Students will work in groups...

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Museum Evaluation and Audience Research, Spring 2017, 2018 & 2019 (Co-Instructor)

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Research and evaluation are key tools for increasing self-awareness within museums and similar institutions. Organizations cannot learn and improve in any systematic way without some means of assessment. Museum professionals in nearly any position find themselves required to conduct evaluations for their institution or oversee contracted researchers. This course provides students with a general understanding of the entire research process from the development of initial guiding questions to the final reporting. The course is appropriate for emerging and experienced professionals...

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Museum and Object-Based Learning, Fall 2016 (Instructor)

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Objects embody natural processes as well as human activity and can connect people, places, and ideas. This course invites students to begin examining the role of objects in learning and teaching, especially, although not exclusively, in museum contexts. Students will explore how the close examination of physical things can be the starting point for engaging learners in sophisticated and varied inquiry. Through readings, discussions, group work, and object experiences, students will investigate questions such as: What is object-based learning? What frameworks have been used to understand...

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Proseminar: Writing Skills for Museum Studies Scholars and Professionals, Fall 2016, Spring 2017 & 2018 (Instructor)

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In this interdisciplinary proseminar, students develop the writing skills necessary to produce a successful graduate-level research project on a topic relevant to the field of museum studies. During the first half of the course, students read classic scholarly texts in museum studies and complete short assignments designed to hone their use of core elements of academic writing: summary, analysis, argument, counterargument, evidence. During the second half, students write a 10-page research essay that reflects their particular areas of interest within the field of museum studies. We study...

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Proseminar: Writing Around the Museum, Spring 2015 & 2016, Fall 2015 (Instructor)

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This course introduces students to the full range of writing encountered while working in the museum field. Rather than being aimed narrowly at writing for an academic thesis, it opens out the role of writing in museums to all forms of written communication—proposals, reports, lectures and presentations, documentation of policies and procedures, object descriptions short and long, gallery guides, educational materials, and all forms of correspondence—for a variety of different audiences.

Learning in Museums: Understanding the Visitor Experience, Spring 2015 & 2016 (Co-Instructor)

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Visitors are an essential component of museums, without them the buildings would only be warehouses or archives. Understanding visitors is a necessary component for understanding museums. This course examines the progression of learning theories that have shaped the development of programs and exhibits over the years. To understand the wide variety of ways visitors can learn in museums we also explore how museum education has evolved since the origin of public museums over two hundred years ago. Accessibility, learning styles, and the social responsibility of museums are included....

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Teaching and Learning with Objects, Spring 2014 (Instructor)

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Objects embody natural processes as well as human activity and are ubiquitous in our everyday lived experience. They can connect people, places, and ideas and are open to interpretation through a range of disciplinary lenses. This course invites students to begin examining the role of objects in learning and teaching across multiple contexts and audiences. Students will explore how the close examination of physical things can be the starting point for engaging learners in sophisticated and varied inquiry. Through readings, discussions, group work, and object experiences, students will...

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Active Learning in Museums, Winter 2013-2016 (Teaching Fellow)

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Along with schools, museums are one of society's most visible institutions of learning. Changing perceptions of museums and their role in society, combined with contemporary ideas about cognition and human development, make today's museums a fascinating context in which to investigate and encourage active, self-directed learning. This course examines the theory and practice of active learning through the lens of the museum. Through readings, discussions, and immersive museum experiences, students will explore questions such as: What is active learning, and how does it compare to other...

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The Role of Museums in History (Teaching Assistant)

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In the ancient world, a museum was a place where ideas were exchanged. Using that definition as a starting point, this course examines the intellectual life of museums beginning with concepts of collecting and cultural property in the medieval period. We look at how traders, pilgrims, and crusaders perceived objects they brought back to western Europe; how the organization of collections into taxonomic categories influenced science in the age of Enlightenment; how natural history, anthropology, and art museums contributed to the development of those subject fields; the gulf between the "...

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Museums and Learning, Fall 2010 & 2011 (Teaching Fellow)

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Changing perceptions of the museum, changing perceptions of museum education and evolving conceptions of how people learn have combined to create fertile ground for research on learning in museums. The course introduces students to research, issues and practices in the area of museum learning, with special but not exclusive emphasis on learning in the art museum. The course focuses on two core questions: (1) What kind of learning can occur in and from museums and how do conceptions of learning embodied in museum practices relate to conceptions of learning more generally? (2) What counts as...

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Introduction to Museum Studies, Spring 2010/2011/2013, Summer 2010/2014-2016, & Fall 2010/2011/2013/2014 (Teaching Assistant)

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This course provides a behind-the-scenes view of museums from the people who are actively involved in their operation. Students learn about the history and objectives of various types of museums (art, natural history, science, historical, zoological) through panel discussions that involve museum directors, curators, conservators, collection managers, and exhibit designers. The focus is the rich and diverse resources of Harvard University's museums, but there also are guest lecturers from other local museums. The course is required for students planning to apply to the Graduate Program in...

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Museum Education, Spring 2010 (Teaching Assistant)

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This course is designed to introduce students to the basic tenets of teaching and learning in museums. The first part of the course examines how museums' initial educational roles evolved. The second part explores case studies of noteworthy museum education programs, including how audiences are built, evaluation is conducted, and individuals learn in the galleries. The last third of the course looks toward future museum education practices and issues. The course includes guest speakers and visits to local museums.

Introduction to Qualitative Research, Fall 2009, 2010 & 2011 (Teaching Fellow)

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How does one collect, analyze, and write about data collected from a small number of people who were neither randomly sampled nor numerous enough to serve as the basis for statistically significant generalizations? What kinds of claims can one make based on this kind of data, and what kinds of claims can one not make? How does one handle research design when one is not sure of what might be discovered in the research? What kinds of questions are best answered with qualitative research? Which specific qualitative research methods are best for answering which questions? This course will...

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Museum Administration, Fall 2009 (Teaching Assistant)

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This course introduces students to the main elements of museum management. Its focus is not on administrative technicalities but rather on issues of organizational and managerial practice. The course identifies the typical mix of challenges involved in running a museum successfully, drawing on a combination of museum management, business management, and cultural and business leadership literature. Case studies are used to illustrate the application of good management practices in particular contexts, and students undertake both a number of practical site visits to local museums and one...

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