Update 2: Mixed methods in the museum

My supervisor at the museum and I came up with a new idea at a meeting last week: generating quantitative data. We decided to adapt parts of the qualitative framework I used in my early observations of the museum into a format that generates some numbers on specific exhibits. Currently, we have 14 questions that focus on gender, culture, and physical accessibility and that are going to be coded as either 0-1 (no-yes) or 0-4 (lowest to highest level of integration). The 0-1 coded questions are ones that are simply seeking to see if a particular element exists in each individual exhibit. The 0-4 coded questions are looking at how deeply each exhibit integrates a concept. I came up with the 0-4 scale by adapting a multicultural education framework for assessing levels of multicultural content integration from my Multicultural Education class last semester. Starting tomorrow, I will be taking 5 full work days to go through every exhibit in three galleries and two working spaces in the museum and code them for each of the 14 questions. My supervisor will then help me comb through the data and analyze it before I incorporate it into my final report. My final report will now contain both qualitative and quantitative findings, along with both academic literature and museum best practices (from other museums’ strategic plans and reports). I am pleased with the holistic nature it has developed over time: inclusivity requires as holistic a perspective as possible. Although this analysis is only going to look at gender, culture, and physical accessibility, with limited definitions and conceptualizations of each due to time constraints and compromises to be able to quantify exceptionally complex topics, I think it will be a great starting point for the museum to build upon in the future.


  1. idbartels says:

    This sounds really cool – I think museums (and other community resources) are such an incredible educational resources. They’re so often forgotten about, but they can shed a lot of light on historical and artistic backgrounds and thought, both of which are so important to an inclusive education.
    I’m also wondering how similar museum best practices are to best practices in the classroom. The goal of the school system may typically seem broader than that of a museum, but in terms of getting content through to students and having them think critically about it, it’s probably very similar. It would be interesting to see what practices translate from classroom to museum and vice versa!