Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello is partnering with the Institute of Museum and Library Sciences to develop an evaluation tool based on national content, skills, and professional development standards to assess teacher education programs at historic sites.
The Thomas Jefferson Foundation (TJF) owns and operates Monticello, the historic home of Thomas Jefferson in Charlottesville, Virginia. TJF is serving as the lead organization in this project in partnership with the Institute of Museum and Library Services and researchers from Teachers College, Columbia University and Tufts University.
Since the 1990s, professional development (PD) for teachers has become a significant part of the programming in the education departments of museums and historic sites, as both are called upon to help remedy the persistent reproach that many teachers lack both content knowledge in history and enthusiasm for the subject. Yet despite two decades of intensive work with teachers, little evidence-based research exists on the effectiveness of historic sites’ role in teacher education. Much of the existing research consists of short, qualitative, program-specific evaluations or surveys that are too site-specific to be generalized or applied to to other sites, or connected to classroom practice.
Unlike other research methods typically used to capture visitor data, such as surveys, Q methodology seeks to determine why people believe what they do as opposed to how many people believe a certain thing. Q methodology, an adaptation of factor analysis, offers a rigorous, quantitative study of subjectivity which is uniquely suited to address the complex problems of teaching and learning that history museums address.