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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Museum educators teaching others to teach McIntosh, Lisa Mary


Currently there is minimal understanding of museum educators’ practices of teaching others to teach. Museum professionals have identified this as an area that warrants investigation if museums are to further their educational potential. This research examines museum educators’ perspectives of their practices as museum-based teacher educators to gain insights into their beliefs regarding practice, generate new understandings about teaching others to teach in museums, and provide direction for professional development. This qualitative study is framed by concepts embodied in collaborative self-study methodology and community of practice and addresses the following questions: 1) What beliefs are evident in the way museum educators discuss their practice as museum-based teacher educators? 2) How do museum educators understand and reconcile the tensions that emerge from their beliefs about practice? 3) How does the opportunity to engage in conversations with colleagues about their practice, framed within collaborative self-study, contribute to museum educators’ practice? Participants’ discussions of their practice as museum-based teacher educators focus on two distinct groups of teachers, new and experienced interpreters and docents. Their practice includes five areas: interpreter selection, initial training, creating space for reflection and peer feedback, shadowing and mentoring, and professional development. They described the purposes of their work as preparing interpreters and docents for program delivery and helping them develop judgement about their teaching. Participants’ beliefs about practice are examined through beliefs about teaching as a craft, teaching as an art and experience as a good teacher. Conflicts between participants’ beliefs and their perceptions of their organisation beliefs are evident in their discussions of tensions in their practice. Analysis suggests that many of the tensions relate to the purpose of visitor experience, the nature of teaching, and the structure of the interpreter position, and in most cases remain unresolved. Participants found the opportunity to engage in conversation with colleagues a valuable form of professional development that contributed to their practice as museum-based teacher educators by presenting alternative perspectives of practice, ensuring time and a degree of accountability to reflect on practice, and positively affected their identity as a museum educator by engaging with others who share similar challenges.

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