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Family learning and museum interpretation

Alston, Katharine Conway; (2018) Family learning and museum interpretation. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

Learning in museums is not merely a process of the assimilation of knowledge but one of meaning making in which both the museum and the visitor play a part. This thesis looks at how meanings are constructed as a process of co-creation in the museum by family learners. I look critically at how self-guided family visitors learn in museums in free-choice learning settings. In this research, an ethnographic, naturalist enquiry, I seek to understand family learning in museums through a series of case studies in different cultural institutions such as the Horniman museum and HMS Belfast. I seek to establish how family learning happens, in terms of meaning making, and how museums best enable it to happen with a particular focus on museum interpretation. Throughout this research, my thinking and professional experience have developed as I have moved from being a family visitor, to volunteering, to gaining work as a museum educator. The bearing this has had on this research is acknowledged and it has served to create a framework for heuristic practice, around which I have developed ideas. Exploring a wide-rage of literature on family learning, I often draw on research in art galleries concerning families as I have found it relevant to my field of inquiry. The theory of knowledge that underlies my thinking is one of constructivism, where meanings are actively constructed in the dialogue between the family and museum. In this thesis I examine the place of information in museum interpretation and argue that it can also equip families to learn, scaffolding the experience, creating conditions for learning. I uncover ways in which museum interpretation, as well as being a means by which information is presented to visitors, could also attend to visitor skills, facilitating engagement by providing opportunities and entry points for visitors to access objects.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: Family learning and museum interpretation
Event: UCL (University College London)
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright © The Author 2018. Original content in this thesis is licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) Licence (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/). Any third-party copyright material present remains the property of its respective owner(s) and is licensed under its existing terms. Access may initially be restricted at the author’s request.
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education > IOE - Culture, Communication and Media
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10064577
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