Promoting a Research Agenda. (Teacher Talk)

Article excerpt

Marianna Adams, Ed.D.

Senior Associate Institute for Learning Innovation Annapolis, Maryland

Award: National Art Education Association Museum Educator of the Year 2001

SA: What exactly is the Institute for Learning Innovation and what type of work do you do?

MA: The Institute for Learning Innovation is a nonprofit educational research and development organization established in 1986 in Annapolis, Maryland. We are committed to the understanding and promotion of free-choice learning--the kind of learning that occurs while people visit museums or other cultural institutions, watch television, read a newspaper, attend a play, or surf the Internet. Through basic and applied research, and educational and professional development, the institute focuses on finding innovative ways to understand and facilitate intersections between the free-choice, formal, and workplace educational sectors. By exploring the frontiers of learning and education, the Institute for Learning Innovation is committed to improving both the quantity and quality of lifelong learning experiences available to all people.

So you might be asking about now, "OK, but what do you really do?" Because of my art teaching and museum education background, I work on a number of projects for art museums and performing arts organizations. I've also had the opportunity to work on projects in science, history, and children's museums. For example, a museum might ask me to design an evaluation of their multiple visit museum/school program. I would work with them to articulate desired outcomes, design the methods of collecting evidence (such as observations, interviews, or writing and drawings), collect and analyze the data, and write up the findings and recommendations that will help the organization understand what is going on with that program.

Another part of my work involves developing and conducting professional development experiences for museum practitioners. At the institute, we are committed to assisting museum professionals in learning how to use evaluation to develop better exhibitions and programs which, in turn, will result in richer, more satisfying experiences for museum visitors of all ages. …