What Are We Doing?

The Thomas Jefferson Foundation, in partnership with the Institute for Museum and Library Services is posing the research question:

What are history teachers learning in historic site-based professional development programs and how does that inform classroom practice?

As an extension of our larger research question, we will also be asking:

How do teachers of different levels of professional expertise approach historic site-based professional development programs and how does that inform classroom practice?

Answering these questions will provide insights about the particular needs of teachers in different stages of their careers and suggest how historic sites can provide the most effective teacher programs possible.

Additionally, we aim to develop a flexible evaluation tool based on Q-methodology that historic sites and museums across the country will be able to use to assess their teacher development programs.

At the end of this project, historic site and museum professionals, professors in teacher education programs, and educators will have a clearer understanding of what preconceptions teachers at different career stages are bringing into their work at historic sites, what they are learning through PD activities at museums, and how they apply what they are learning in their classrooms. Museum professionals will be able to modify programs to create more effective learning environments for teachers and have data to present to museum and university-based education program staff, to funders, and to government officials about the use of museums in teacher PD.