Document: Visitors And Learners: CECA Paper

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Visitors And Learners: Adult Museum Visitors’ Learning Identities: Paper presented at ICOM-CECA '07 Vienna

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© Lynda Kelly

Abstract

Current theories of learning focus on the meanings an individual makes based on their experience—alone, within a social context and as part of a community. A critical aspect in better understanding the process of learning for an individual is to find out how people view themselves as learners across the rich array of both formal and informal learning experiences available to them. Museums are increasingly positioning themselves in the market as places for rich learning experiences, and research has shown that when asked why they visit museums people often say “to learn”, yet there has been little exploration into what this means. What do museum visitors think learning is and how do visitors view themselves as learners within the context of a museum visit—their learning identity? This paper reports on a doctoral study that investigated adult museum visitors’ learning identities and how these were influenced by a visit to a museum exhibition.

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