Performative embodiment and museum education : exploring drama-based professional learning with museum educators

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Kent, Stephanie Ann

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How can museum educators increase the accessibility of museum education for a diverse range of learners? In this MFA thesis, the author explores the relationship between multimodal meaning-making through drama-based strategies and the accessibility of educational experiences on the museum floor. Additionally, this document looks at the effects of drama-based professional learning on the pedagogical practices of museum educators at the Blanton Museum of Art at the University of Texas at Austin. The author seeks to answer the questions: How does the design and implementation of drama-based professional learning for museum educators impact their facilitation of inquiries around art pieces on the gallery floor? How can performative embodiment and drama-based pedagogy offer museum visitors multiple entry points and ways to engage in dialogue about art pieces? Through three case studies, this qualitative research study explores the structure and impact of drama-based professional learning. The case studies share the experiences of museum educators when implementing drama-based strategies on the museum floor in addition to exploring how dialogic reflection supports the educators’ understandings around facilitation and learning design within drama-based pedagogy. Following the presentation of the cases, the author engages in a cross-case analysis that looks at the similarities and differences of the case studies. The study suggests that drama-based strategies may increase the engagement of young visitors on the museum floor due to the agency and choice inherent in drama-based strategies. This study also proposes that professional learning in museum settings which uses dialogic reflection between educators engaged in aligned practices aids the educators in determining how to navigate challenges within their practice. The document ends with the limitations of the study and recommendations for future iterations of the project.


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