The online and onsite Holocaust Museum exhibition as an informational resource: A comparative analysis
Margaret L. Lincoln, University of North Texas, United States
University of North Texas . Awarded
Museums today provide learning-rich experiences and quality informational resources through both physical and virtual environments. This study examined a Holocaust Museum traveling exhibition, Life in Shadows: Hidden Children and the Holocaust that was on display at the Art Center of Battle Creek, Michigan in fall 2005. The purpose of this mixed methods study was to assess the informational value of a Holocaust Museum exhibition in its onsite vs. online format by converging quantitative and qualitative data.
Participants in the study included six eighth grade language arts classes who viewed various combinations or scenarios of the onsite and online Life in Shadows. Using student responses to questions in an online exhibition survey, an analysis of variance was performed to determine which scenario visit promotes the greatest content learning. Using student responses to additional questions on the same survey, data were analyzed qualitatively to discover the impact on students of each scenario visit. By means of an emotional empathy test, data were analyzed to determine differences among student response according to scenario visit.
A principal finding of the study (supporting Falk and Dierking’s contextual model of learning) was that the use of the online exhibition provided a source of prior orientation and functioned as an advanced organizer for students who subsequently viewed the onsite exhibition. Students who viewed the online exhibition received higher topic assessment scores. Students in each scenario visit gave positive exhibition feedback and evidence of emotional empathy.
Further longitudinal studies in museum informatics and Holocaust education involving a more diverse population are needed. Of particular importance would be research focusing on using museum exhibitions and Web-based technology in a compelling manner so that students can continue to hear the words of survivors who themselves bear witness and give voice to silenced victims. When perpetuity of access to informational resources is assured, future generations will continue to be connected to the primary documents of history and cultural heritage.
Lincoln, M.L. The online and onsite Holocaust Museum exhibition as an informational resource: A comparative analysis. Ph.D. thesis, University of North Texas.
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