UBC Theses and Dissertations

UBC Theses Logo

UBC Theses and Dissertations

Understanding science museum educators in China and their self-concept as professionals Ji, Jiao


Museum educators are critical human connectors who have a crucial influence in fulfilling the educational mission and social responsibility of museums. However, studies focusing on museum educators have mostly been conducted in museums based in Western cultural contexts. The voice of museum educators from non-Western museums are often ignored, marginalized, or underrepresented. Moreover, empirical studies of Chinese science museum educators are nearly non-existent. Informed by a Communities of Practice (CoP) perspective and Cultural Historical Activity Theory (CHAT), this interpretive case study investigated 23 Chinese science museum educators’ self-concept as museum education professionals and their perceived needs for future professional development. The research focused on museum educators’ perceptions of their self-concept as museum education professionals, and how these perceptions were influenced by the local social and cultural context in which they work. This study used semi-structured face-to-face interviews as the primary method of data collection. These were complemented by informal conversations between participants and the researcher, as well as the researcher’s self-reflective journaling. The study's findings indicate that Chinese science museum educators’ self-concept as museum education professionals is multifaceted and contextual. Their self-concept includes their perspectives on work motivations, job responsibility, work competency, current professional development pathways, and desires for future professional development. Moreover, museum educators’ self-concept varies across different contexts. The sociocultural factors within the Chinese museum context that shape their self-concept as professionals include: a) a highly hierarchical organizational culture, b) an authority-centered political structure, c) a highly competitive education reality, d) a hybridized educational philosophy that blends constructive teaching and the traditional teacher-centered didactic teaching pedagogies, and e) the contradictions emergent in the process of building a professional community and connecting with different stakeholders relevant to museum education work. The research findings elucidate Chinese science museum educators’ self-concept regarding who they are as professionals and their place within the larger museum professional community. The revelation of contradictions within Chinese science museum educators’ perception of themselves as professionals will help shape future research, develop pathways to professionalization of museum education work, and build a professional museum educator community in China

Item Media

Item Citations and Data


Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5 Canada