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



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 forms of learning? What is its basis in learning theory, and how is it related to theories of knowledge and theories of teaching? What counts as evidence of active learning, and how can it be recognized, documented, evaluated? What are the links between active learning and close observation, between active learning and object-based learning? In what ways do museum exhibitions and experiences encourage--and discourage--active learning? How can an understanding of active learning in museums inform educational design more broadly? As part of the course requirement, students will work in small groups to design, implement, and critique an active learning experience in a museum or museum-like environment. Several visits to local museums are required.