Facilitating Family Learning in Museums: Re-thinking Our Assumptions and Approaches

February 1st, 2022 | RESEARCH

Although museums have long valued and catered to families as an audience, museum educators have not always had the tools or training to support the unique nature of family learning or to develop family-specific approaches that are distinct from classroom teaching. In this chapter, we outline a series of research-based principles for understanding family learning and provide examples to illustrate how these principles play out in museums. Specifically, we highlight the importance of (a) recognizing that families have multiple goals, (b) appreciating the central role of parents and other adult family members, and (b) understanding how a museum visit is a brief moment in a family’s long-term learning trajectory. We then explore how these principles might be used to inform new approaches to the facilitation of family learning in museums and provide an example of a professional development resource intended to help educators incorporate these principles into their practice.


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Team Members

Scott Pattison, Author, TERC Inc.
Smirla Ramos-Montañez, Author, TERC Inc.


Identifier Type: isbn
Identifier: 978-1-5381-4861-7

Publication: Museum education for today's audiences: Meeting expectations with new models


Funding Source: NSF
Funding Program: AISL
Award Number: 1321666
Funding Amount: $790,066

Related URLs

Publisher Link
Researching the Value of Educator Actions for Learning (REVEAL)
Researching the Value of Educator Actions for Learning (REVEAL)


Audience: Families | Parents | Caregivers
Discipline: Education and learning science | General STEM
Resource Type: Edited Chapter | Research
Environment Type: Exhibitions | Museum and Science Center Exhibits | Museum and Science Center Programs | Public Programs

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This material is supported by National Science Foundation award DRL-2229061, with previous support under DRL-1612739, DRL-1842633, DRL-1212803, and DRL-0638981. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations contained within InformalScience.org are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of NSF.

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