Cristina’s draftofMuseumResearch

Hi Everyone!
Thanks for taking the time to read and provide feedback. This is a one-page document overview on my research. The audience is a general audience but I also will use some of this for a conference proposal. My goal is to the have the conference proposal written before the second time I get to workshop my work.
I wrote this piece yesterday and I am trying to not think about it too much since this is where I sometimes get stuck.

I would like feedback on:

  • What is it effective to lead with the statement of the problem or should I lead with the statement about the purpose of the research?
  • Was I effective and/or what can I do to have a consistent through line about some of the issues students of color face in science and the potential role of museums?
  • Do I make a case for why this topic is important in the to a larger audience outside of science education? Or Did I make the case for why anyone should care about this besides me?
  • Do my paragraphs have clear transitions?
  • Any comments, questions or wonderings that you have about the research?



Research Project: Recent MAT Graduates Integration of Museum Resources in Science Instruction and Effect on Student Learning


Schools are challenging places for teaching and learning. For many students, this is evident in examining the demographics of New York City public school graduation rates. Over the past five years, New York City four-year high school graduation rates increased from 60 to 65 percent for Blacks and 58 to 64 percent for Hispanics, but lag 18 to 20 percent behind Asian and White graduation rates (NYC DOE, 2016). At college, in science, the difference is magnified with significant racial differences in who majors in science (NGSS, 2014). Non-dominant groups such as females, Blacks and Hispanics are not proportionally represented in the population in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields.

For teachers, teaching is complicated. Engaging students, figuring out how to make content relevant, and navigating school demands are some of the challenges for first year teachers. New science teachers are asked to translate content in a way that promotes questions, inquiry and discussion in classrooms often void of materials. Museums’ have the potential to be a conduit for teachers’ own learning and for making content relevant to students. This is especially true in large urban cities where there is access to a multitude of informal science learning institutions.

In urban settings, informal science institutions (ISEs) are numerous and have the potential to support student learning. Research from the National Research Council on Learning Science in Informal Environments (2009) suggests when non-dominant groups in science benefit from resources and learning experiences in and out of the classroom. In particular, students develop science skills and understanding or “sense making” of science concept (2009). In addition, a growing body of evidence suggests that females and people of color engage more in active learning compared to lecture format learning (Eddy & Hogan, 2014). Museums and other informal science educations institutions (ISEIs) have the potential of engaging students and providing relevancy to students’ lives and community. The museum affords opportunities for active learning that could benefit non-dominant groups in K-12 science education.

In 2011, the Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) Urban Residency Program at the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) launched the first urban teacher residency program offered by a museum. This 15-month program addresses a critical shortage of qualified earth science teachers in New York State, particularly in high-needs schools with diverse populations. This study seeks to understand how the AMNH MAT graduates teaching in New York City schools are using museum resources in a unit of study and the effect on student learning.

The purpose of this research is to understand how graduates of the Museum’s Master of Arts in Teaching are able to take the knowledge, skills, and pedagogy of using museum resources and informal learning experiences into their instruction and how students are learning science from these experiences. For this study, a museum resource is the physical setting of the museum, objects, pedagogy, and people assets for learning while in the AMNH MAT program. For example, resources such as rocks and minerals, multimedia resources, exhibitions and dioramas, field research collections, work with scientists, and engaging in museum pedagogical strategies.

At the core of the MAT program is a belief and commitment to using museum resources for teacher residents’ own learning and to transfer this learning into their classroom. If these teachers use museum resources for their learning and engagement then it holds that a MAT program that produces a novice science teacher who has been exposed to 36 credits of science and education courses, a museum and teacher residency, and science field research during a 15- month program and an additional two years of professional development after graduation, that there would be evidence of this in their classroom and teaching.

I am proposing to investigate three hypotheses. First, my hypothesis is that teachers who have participated in a 15-month teacher residency program at the Museum and who are in involved in the Museum Induction program will be able to transfer using museum resources and learning experiences in a unit of study in their science classroom. Second, I also hypothesize that these resources will strengthen student engagement and science understanding. Finally, I hypothesize if these resources foster student engagement with non-dominant groups in science that may instill hope for new teachers that are vulnerable to attrition.


  1. How do MAT teachers use museum resources in a unit of study?
  2. What are the particular resources or strategies for learning in informal environments that are more or less successful?





  • JENNIFER says:
    To answer this question: Do I make a case for why this topic is important in the to a larger audience outside of science education? Or Did I make the case for why anyone should care about this besides me?

    I think you do make a case for an audience outside science education. Perhaps that’s because I am interested in anything related to education. So, maybe you can consider including how closing this ‘racial differences’ gap will be beneficial outside of the STEM fields.

    Thanks for sharing your proposal, Cristina! I think it is an important one, I look forward to discussing it during tomorrow’s class.

  • My marginal comments above are mostly copy editing suggestions. But, overall, I think this abstract would benefit from language that was more precisely cast and less abstract. The AMNH MAT program seems to be the chief focus of your research and might be able to stand alone without the first three paragraphs of this draft of the abstract. Regarding AMNH MAT, I wonder if you can state/hypothesize more explicitly the path from a novice teacher’s exposure to learning about science in a museum and being able to share their learning productively with their own students. For example, do you think there a benefit will accrue to novice teachers working with physical artifacts or representations of scientific discoveries in tableau form (dioramas)? Will they become acculturated to science as it is currently practiced and then be able to transmit their deeper knowledge of science practices to their students? And/or will student teachers simply learn more science because they will spend more time studying it and have experts to ask questions of? And will this experience of more expert learning allow them to synthesize the material more effectively when they communicate it to their students?

    I hope these comments are helpful. Let’s talk more during class about where you want this research to go and the hypotheses that you want to explore.

  • Cheryl Smith says:
    Cristina, This is going to be such an interesting study and your extended proposal or project outline here leaves me with so many questions (in a good way!). I would foreground that the focus of the study is the student teachers in the MAT program who are doing the museum residency. At the beginning, this aspect of the study is not clear. I am interested in the purpose and intended effects of the MAT program initiating or forging this museum residency (or, if not the MAT program, who? Who got this residency opportunity off the ground, and why? What are the goals?). To what extent are you studying the stated goals of the museum residency program (What you say in the penultimate paragraph about the “core of the MAT program)? Or are the driving questions your own?

    Really, I think this is a study of teacher training more than a study of student learning, though the impacts on student learning will be part of understanding the effects of the teacher training approaches. So, I’m interested in who got this museum residency program in place, and why. Was one of the program’s goals reaching those non-dominant student groups you talk about in the beginning, and particularly bringing those students into the study of STEM fields? I also think you will want to lay out what population you are studying more clearly at the beginning: this is a study of these specific student teachers, being trained with a very specific set of assumptions about what makes science teachers more successful, but also being trained in public schools with very particular pressures at the moment. And it is only secondarily a study of these teachers’ students.

    I think it’s a very urban study, too, however, and urban schools have particular profiles (perhaps more ethnically diverse and economically diverse students, say, so your early stats are not necessarily beside the point), pressures (graduation rates, college enrollment rates, etc) and opportunities (access to large cultural programs and institutions). So all these details you outline matter. But you might want to lay out who’s being studied and why FIRST, and then lay out the larger context (urban public schools and students).

    Thank you for sharing this work–it’s a really interesting study. Given all the changes going on in public ed., I am especially interested in seeing what you find, and how programs like these can be sustained and how they can contribute to a more well-rounded (and not so test-driven) approach to student learning.

  • Christina, I enjoyed your paper. I think it shows good organization and a clear understanding of what it is you wish to accomplish/show. I would suggest though that you shorten your statement of the problem and get to your three hypotheses much sooner. That way, you can spend the second half of your proposal drawing the lines of reasoning between your hypotheses – as well as closing with the “take-aways” from your research (i.e. its potential for bettering pedagogy and benefitting marginalized students, etc.). That way, your reader will come away from reading your proposal with a clear statement of why the research matters (despite whatever reservations they might have about your theses or your methodology).

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