Abstract 5, Volume 9, Number 1, Spring 2014

Museum Visits in Social Studies:  The Role of a Methods Course

Jennifer Cutsforth Kaschak

University of Scranton

Museum visits provide opportunities for students to learn content in engaging and interactive ways.  In social studies, museums may be spaces where students can increase their historical and civic understanding through exposure to artifacts and narratives unavailable in classrooms.  Yet, research suggests teachers are insufficiently prepared to integrate museum visits into classroom curriculum effectively.  In this project, the instructors of the two secondary social studies methods course sections organized a visit to a natural history museum.  The instructors modeled pre- and post-visit lesson activities during class and provided a guide for pre-service teachers to complete during their museum visit.  While pre-service teachers reported they better understood the importance of connecting museum visits to classroom curriculum, they also raised questions about how methods course faculty might introduce pre-service teachers to museum visits.  This article discusses what was learned during the project, as well as approaches social studies methods course instructors might reflect upon when considering museum visits as a component of social studies teacher education.

Key Words: social studies, museums, teacher education, pre-service teachers, methods courses, teacher educator pedagogy

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