San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
Study of Teachers

RK&A was contracted to conduct a study of Bay Area teachers, with a particular focus on teachers who have not attended a school program at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA).  The study was conducted to inform SFMOMA’s enhancement and expansion work with teachers and students once the museum reopened after renovation in 2015.   

How did we approach this study?

RK&A used two methodologies in this study.  First, RK&A administered a standardized mail-back questionnaire to 3,200 teachers across the Bay area.  A total of 316 questionnaires were returned, which is a 10 percent response rate.  Teachers surveyed included those who teach grades K to 12 and a variety of subject areas.  Second, RK&A conducted two focus groups with Bay Area teachers who had not participated in an SFMOMA school or teacher program.  One group consisted of those who teach grades 3 to 5, while the other group consisted of those who teach grades 6 to 12.  RK&A facilitated a reflection workshop following the study to help staff process results and consider implications.   

What did we learn?

Teachers who have participated in school and teacher programs at SFMOMA differ from those who have not in a few ways.  In particular, SFMOMA teacher participants have been teaching for many years, tend to teach an art-related subject, and greatly value museum experiences for their students.  Bearing no influence on participation in SFMOMA school and teacher programs are a teacher’s district, type of school (public versus private), and grade level.  In looking specifically at the teachers who have not attended a program at SFMOMA, the greatest barrier to participation is that teachers are mostly unfamiliar with what SFMOMA offers them their students.  For instance, in focus groups, the teachers often said they were interested in or suggested that SFMOMA offer programs it already offers, such as museum-led tours, art-making activities for students, and programs that go to the school.  Some of these teachers indicated that they have attended school programs at other art museums, suggesting that they are inclined to visit SFMOMA had they been more familiar with the offerings.   Teachers also emphasized that the greatest barriers to field trips in general are transportation and associated costs as well as the need for clearly defined curriculum links in order to justify the trip to the administration and parents.

What are the implications of the findings?

We recommend SFMOMA look closely at how it presents its school and teacher programs in order to best highlight its offerings.  During the reflection workshop, staff across departments began to look critically at the materials around school and teacher programs and suggested remediation ideas, website improvements, and content changes to help teachers identify the relevance of programming to their curriculum.

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Photo Courtesy of SFMOMA.