National Art Education Association & Association of Art Museum Directors
Impact of Art Museum Programs on Students

The National Art Education Association (NAEA) and the Association of Art Museum Directors (AAMD) contracted RK&A to conduct a research study on the impact of single-visit programs to art museums on K-12 students.  A literature review confirms that there remains a relative dearth of empirical and qualitative investigations concerning learning in art museums, and the research that exists does not adequately address art museum settings or single-visit programs within them.  Thus, the goal of the study is to address this knowledge gap and disseminate the results widely for utilization by art museums, schools, and policymakers with the ultimate purpose of enhancing students’ art museum experiences.  Funding from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) and the Samuel H. Kress Foundation supported this work. 

How did we approach this project? 

During the 2014-15 Planning Year, a planning team that included NAEA, AAMD, RK&A and art museum educators, laid the groundwork for the study by determining the student capacities to be explored.  RK&A conducted a survey of the field and constituent interviews to gauge the landscape of single-visit programs in U.S. art museums and to inform the development of the research plan.  Members of the planning team also developed a literature review that describes theories and research around single-visit programs and the student capacities the study would explore, as well as established the criteria for selection of research sites that represent a diversity of museums and communities as well as current practices in art museum education.

NAEA-AAMD secured IMLS funding for the study in 2015.  During the first year of the grant, the 2015-16 Pilot Year, NAEA-AAMD) RK&A selected research sites based on established criteria.  RK&A also received study approval from the IRB and tested the methods and instruments through a pilot study with one of the research sites in the spring of 2016.  RK&A met with NAEA-AAMD and its advisory team in the summer to review findings from the pilot study and the resulting changes to instruments.  RK&A spent the latter half of the grant year securing permissions from seven school districts for research activities. 

Current status of the project

NAEA has partnered with six museums across the country to conduct the study: Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, CA; Orlando Museum of Art, Orlando, FL; Columbus Museum of Art, Columbus, OH; Museum of Fine Arts, Houston TX; Rhode Island School of Design Museum, Providence, RI; and Walters Art Museum, Baltimore, MD.  RK&A is conducting a quasi-experimental study to measure the impact of the single-visit program on students in grades 4-6.  There are three study groups:

  1.  Control – A group of students who will not receive a single-visit art museum program;
  2.  Treatment A – A group of students who will attend a single-visit program in an art museum facilitated by an art museum educator;
  3.  Treatment B – A group of students who will receive a single-visit program facilitated by an art museum educator (identical to that of Treatment A) but in their classroom. 

Now in the second year of the study grant, the project is currently in the data collection process.  Research methodologies include a mix of qualitative and quantitative data from student questionnaires, student interviews, teacher questionnaires, teacher interviews, museum educator interviews, and program observations. RK&A hired local data collectors at each site to administer student questionnaires, collect parental consent forms, conduct program observations, and conduct student interviews.  Data collectors have certified training in human subject research and have been trained by RK&A staff.  The NAEA Project Manager worked with RK&A staff and school districts to schedule data collection at museums and schools between January 2017 and May 2017.

Education Research Projects NAEA