Worksheets and learning in South African museums

Show simple item record Nyamupangedengu, Eunice 2010-08-24T10:30:32Z 2010-08-24T10:30:32Z 2010-08-24
dc.description.abstract The use of worksheets during museum field trips is shrouded in controversy. Some researchers say that worksheets are useful as they facilitate learning while others condemn the use of worksheets arguing that they restrict learning. Still others say there is no apparent difference in learning between learners who are given worksheets and those that are not. A critical analysis of the literature on museum learning shows that the usefulness of a worksheet depends on how appropriately the worksheet has been designed and used as an instrument for facilitating learning during museum field trips. I analysed and evaluated museum worksheets in the Gauteng Province of South Africa for appropriateness as instruments for facilitating learning during field trips. I also conducted a case study at Oppenheimer Life Sciences Museum. This was to investigate the extent to which the worksheets that are used at this museum during the Yebo Gogga annual exhibition promote learning during a museum field trip. I designed an analysis tool using the characteristics of a worksheet that have been shown to impact on learning during museum visits: task density, orientation cues, information source, level of choice, cognitive level, response format, question format, curriculum connection, site specificity and social interaction. I then used the tool to analyse nineteen intermediate phase (grade 4 to 6) worksheets from four museums. I further conducted a case study with 11 groups of learners from four primary and two high schools in Gauteng. The case study involved observing the learners and recording their conversations. Learners’ conversations that were initiated by the use of worksheets were examined for evidence of learning. Analysis of the structured worksheets showed that the worksheets exhibited some features that were likely to facilitate learning and some that were likely to restrict it. The worksheets also lacked some features that are necessary for effective facilitation of learning. These findings suggest that the worksheets were not optimally designed to facilitate learning during museum field trips. In the case study, the observations showed that some learners used the worksheets in moderation by combining completion of worksheets with free exploration. Other learners exclusively focused on completion of worksheets visiting only those exhibits that pertained to worksheet questions. Still others used worksheets for orientating themselves. The worksheets guided their movement through the museum and their choice of exhibits to visit. The way different learner groups used worksheets appeared to have been influenced by what their teachers said at the beginning of the tour suggesting that the teachers or chaperones played an important role in determining how worksheets were used by learners to support their learning. Analysis of conversations indicated that there was meaningful and active participation by the learners who were using worksheets which shows that the use of worksheets promoted learning. In view of these findings, I concluded that the usefulness of worksheets as instruments for facilitating learning can not be dismissed. However, a constant critical appraisal of worksheet use is necessary to improve their effectiveness. en_US
dc.language.iso en en_US
dc.title Worksheets and learning in South African museums en_US
dc.type Thesis en_US

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