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Title:The collaboration conundrum: Negotiating educator priorities in an intensive museum-school partnership
Author(s):Harris, Heather M.
Director of Research:Bresler, Liora
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Bresler, Liora
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Möller, Karla J.; Parsons, Michael J.; Denmead, Tyler
Department / Program:Curriculum and Instruction
Discipline:Curriculum and Instruction
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Museum education
School partnerships
Communities of practice
Abstract:Increasingly, fine arts museums and K-12 schools seek to work together in more substantive ways than the traditional one-time field trip. Museum-school partnerships afford the opportunity to work across institutional borders to create unique learning experiences for students, but they also present several challenges. Museums and schools have distinct institutional cultures and histories, which inform their approaches to teaching and learning. These differences of approach can cause disagreements regarding how best to plan and implement collaborative programs. They require negotiation of priorities in order to create a coherent vision for the partnership. This qualitative case study explores one such program, called FUSE, which is an acronym for Foster Ultimate School Experience. FUSE is a weeklong program, based at Foster Art Museum, a university-affiliated fine arts museum. Elementary school students and teachers who participate in FUSE spend five days in the museums and its galleries, where the focus is on analyzing, interpreting, making, and responding to works of art. Using a communities of practice framework, the study examines the processes of collaboration which occur as educators from schools and a fine arts museum work together in the FUSE program. Data sources included observation, interviews, and analysis of program artifacts. Findings were divided into three categories: Museum priorities, school priorities, and shared priorities. Analysis of these priorities showed both tension and mutual engagement within the collaborative effort. By parsing the moments of discord and harmony in detail, the study provides insight into the challenges and possibilities of inter-institutional collaboration. The results of the study suggest that through multi-year engagement in the FUSE program, museum educators and school-based educators began to form a new community of practice centered on the program. The two groups developed a shared language and investment in the program, which extended beyond their institutional affiliation. This new community was bolstered through professional development and cultivation of relationships between the educators. In the past FUSE educators attempted to make ties to the schools’ curricula, but the study also shows an increasing desire to leave the school curriculum behind and craft FUSE as an experience apart from the mores of schooling. This finding has implications for how museum-school partnerships are implemented, as well as for the ways in which the arts are incorporated in the public school curriculum.
Issue Date:2017-11-27
Rights Information:Copyright 2017 Heather M. Harris
Date Available in IDEALS:2018-03-13
Date Deposited:2017-12

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