Museum of Art’s Complete Art Program (CAP)
Developing Young Minds
Current research in museum education guides the WSU Museum of Art’s CAP programming. In the past, museums were places where people simply looked at the artifacts on display. The main focus of museum education these days is to promote visitors’ cognitive growth. This means we hope that with the help of museum educational materials, visitors can engage with the works and the tour guides in more interactive ways.
Ideally, a trip to the museum offers youngsters a place to practice developing problem solving skills (asking questions, wondering, making sense of how pieces fit together), developing active learning skills (being involved in a learning activity, doing a pantomime of an art scene), and developing affective emotional learning skills (acknowledging feelings of surprise, anger, sadness, etc. produced by the art).
Educational theorist, John Dewey believed that people learn best when experiences stimulate several skill sets. The online materials are developed with a focus on multiple means of access (the teacher presents content from various angles), multiple means of engagement (the students participate in multiple styles of learning), and multiple means of expression (the students demonstrate learning through various disciplines and mediums).
Another educational theorist, Jerome Bruner, suggested that a series of lessons, building upon each other would build knowledge. He called this a “spiral curriculum”.
The Spiral Museum Curriculum can easily be adopted in classes by completing a few pre-visit activities in the classroom, learning activities at the museum, and then continuing discussions about the visit through post-visit activities. Students will have a deeper understanding of the art and consequently will learn more.
For more information, please see “A Spiral of Learning in Museums by Dr. Valerie Eggemeyer, Casper College in the National Art Education Association Advisory, Summer 2007.