Inquiry, Play, and Problem Solving in a Process Learning Environment

Persistent Link:
http://hdl.handle.net/10150/613248
Title:
Inquiry, Play, and Problem Solving in a Process Learning Environment
Author:
Thwaits, Anne Y.
Issue Date:
2016
Publisher:
The University of Arizona.
Rights:
Copyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
Abstract:
What is the nature of art/science collaborations in museums? How do art objects and activities contribute to the successes of science centers? Based on the premise that art exhibitions and art-based activities engage museum visitors in different ways than do strictly factual, information-based displays, I address these questions in a case study that examines the roles of visual art and artists in the Exploratorium, a museum that has influenced exhibit design and professional practice in many of the hands-on science centers in the United States and around the world. The marriage of art and science in education is not a new idea - Leonardo da Vinci and other early polymaths surely understood how their various endeavors informed one another, and some 20th century educators understood the value of the arts and creativity in the learning and practice of other disciplines. When, in 2010, the National Science Teachers Association added an A to the federal government's ubiquitous STEM initiative and turned it into STEAM, art educators nationwide took notice. With a heightened interest in the integration of and collaboration between disciplines comes an increased need for models of best practice for educators and educational institutions. With the intention to understand the nature of such collaborations and the potential they hold, I undertook this study. I made three site visits to the Exploratorium, where I took photos, recorded notes in a journal, interacted with exhibits, and observed museum visitors. I collected other data by examining the institution's website, press releases, annual reports, and fact sheets; and by reading popular and scholarly articles written by museum staff members and by independent journalists. I quickly realized that the Exploratorium was not created in the way than most museums are, and the history of its founding and the ideals of its founder illuminate what was then and continues now to be different about this museum from most others in the United States. This dissertation presents an account of the history of the institution and the continuing legacy of the early Exploratorium and its founder, Frank Oppenheimer. I argue that the institution is an early example of a constructivist learning museum. I then describe how art encourages learning in the museum. It provides means of presenting information that engage all of the senses and encourage emotional involvement. It reframes familiar sights so that viewers look more closely in search of recognition, and it presents intangible or dematerialized things in a tangible way. It facilitates play, with its many benefits. It brings fresh perspectives and processes to problem solving and the acquisition of new knowledge. This project is the study of an institution where art and science have always coexisted with equal importance, setting it apart from more traditional museums where art was added as a secondary focus to the original disciplinary concentration of the institution. Many of the exhibits were created by artists, but the real value the visual arts bring to the museum is in its contributions to processes such as inquiry, play, problem-solving, and innovation.
Type:
text; Electronic Dissertation
Keywords:
Art History & Education
Degree Name:
Ph.D.
Degree Level:
doctoral
Degree Program:
Graduate College; Art History & Education
Degree Grantor:
University of Arizona
Advisor:
Garber, Elizabeth

Full metadata record

DC FieldValue Language
dc.language.isoen_USen
dc.titleInquiry, Play, and Problem Solving in a Process Learning Environmenten_US
dc.creatorThwaits, Anne Y.en
dc.contributor.authorThwaits, Anne Y.en
dc.date.issued2016-
dc.publisherThe University of Arizona.en
dc.rightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.en
dc.description.abstractWhat is the nature of art/science collaborations in museums? How do art objects and activities contribute to the successes of science centers? Based on the premise that art exhibitions and art-based activities engage museum visitors in different ways than do strictly factual, information-based displays, I address these questions in a case study that examines the roles of visual art and artists in the Exploratorium, a museum that has influenced exhibit design and professional practice in many of the hands-on science centers in the United States and around the world. The marriage of art and science in education is not a new idea - Leonardo da Vinci and other early polymaths surely understood how their various endeavors informed one another, and some 20th century educators understood the value of the arts and creativity in the learning and practice of other disciplines. When, in 2010, the National Science Teachers Association added an A to the federal government's ubiquitous STEM initiative and turned it into STEAM, art educators nationwide took notice. With a heightened interest in the integration of and collaboration between disciplines comes an increased need for models of best practice for educators and educational institutions. With the intention to understand the nature of such collaborations and the potential they hold, I undertook this study. I made three site visits to the Exploratorium, where I took photos, recorded notes in a journal, interacted with exhibits, and observed museum visitors. I collected other data by examining the institution's website, press releases, annual reports, and fact sheets; and by reading popular and scholarly articles written by museum staff members and by independent journalists. I quickly realized that the Exploratorium was not created in the way than most museums are, and the history of its founding and the ideals of its founder illuminate what was then and continues now to be different about this museum from most others in the United States. This dissertation presents an account of the history of the institution and the continuing legacy of the early Exploratorium and its founder, Frank Oppenheimer. I argue that the institution is an early example of a constructivist learning museum. I then describe how art encourages learning in the museum. It provides means of presenting information that engage all of the senses and encourage emotional involvement. It reframes familiar sights so that viewers look more closely in search of recognition, and it presents intangible or dematerialized things in a tangible way. It facilitates play, with its many benefits. It brings fresh perspectives and processes to problem solving and the acquisition of new knowledge. This project is the study of an institution where art and science have always coexisted with equal importance, setting it apart from more traditional museums where art was added as a secondary focus to the original disciplinary concentration of the institution. Many of the exhibits were created by artists, but the real value the visual arts bring to the museum is in its contributions to processes such as inquiry, play, problem-solving, and innovation.en
dc.typetexten
dc.typeElectronic Dissertationen
dc.subjectArt History & Educationen
thesis.degree.namePh.D.en
thesis.degree.leveldoctoralen
thesis.degree.disciplineGraduate Collegeen
thesis.degree.disciplineArt History & Educationen
thesis.degree.grantorUniversity of Arizonaen
dc.contributor.advisorGarber, Elizabethen
dc.contributor.committeememberShin, Ryanen
dc.contributor.committeememberReid, Natashaen
dc.contributor.committeememberGarber, Elizabethen
All Items in UA Campus Repository are protected by copyright, with all rights reserved, unless otherwise indicated.