Light bulbs are blazing in my head as I just figured out a tricky segmentation of parents and their motivations around learning.
So let's explain the graphic. Among parents who had visited museums at least once in the past year:
Note that this data, from a broader population sample, only refers to parents who actually had visited a museum in the past year. I am pretty confident of these segments within that group, especially since some of it makes sense in the context of what good evaluators often find in their work. What's new is being able to put numbers to these segments more broadly.
Additionally, I'm not deep enough in the analysis to estimate what percentage of parents overall they comprise or to discuss how an intrinsic motivation around learning (and visiting museums) matters to families and their engagement in their community. That's coming.
Finally, remember that the purpose of the survey isn't parents. During my analysis, I found myself digging deeper to understand what the data was saying about parents, but there is a lot more about all adults coming!
The questions for this survey have been inspired by ongoing conversations within the museum field (who goes to museums, why they visit, and what that means for communities) and ongoing research in the fields of education and psychology around lifelong learning and intrinsic motivation.
A confession. My brain is weird.
Why? Well, this what happens when I approach a new data set.
1 - Blankness. Lots of numbers. Just … data.
2 - "There's nothing new here!" Or, the data doesn't tell me anything. Sigh.
3 - "Hmmmmm ….. Huh?"
4 - "OMG there is this huge 3D sculpture that just snapped into my brain of the data and it has all these amazing interconnections and how will I ever make sense of this there is so much here I am overwhelmed"
5 - Frantic running of new filters and reports based on said above 3D sculpture that now resides in the virtual space of my brain
6 - Wow, there is so much here! I'm so excited and I can't wait to share!
7 - I begin sharing.
Right now, I am around step 5 but seeing step 6 around the corner. That tendril of excitement is starting to grow.
So let me tell you the gist of the survey I ran this fall.
Psychologists and educational scholars talk a lot about the difference between intrinsic motivation and extrinsic motivation in learning and human development. Generally, individuals with stronger intrinsic motivation tend to outperform those with stronger extrinsic motivation. The type of motivation matters.
I wanted to push this further and consider intrinsic vs. extrinsic motivations by overlaying them on behaviors around museums and values around community. How are they intertwined? Do people who are driven by stronger intrinsic motivation have different value systems about community than those with a stronger extrinsic motivation?
Then, are there ways that we can identify who is more likely to be intrinsically motivated to learn, formally or informally, and thus inherently value museums? Who are the people who are extrinsically motivated, and need to see more specific evidence about why museums matter? What evidence will they respond to?
To find out, this fall I fielded a general population sample of 1,687 American adults (1,289 completes, 398 partials). In particular, this is large enough for me to have stable samples of Americans with lower educational attainment...people that don't visit museums nearly as much as those with college degrees.
All questions were closed-ended, and only begin to sort out the values, philosophies, behaviors, and attitudes of the segments I am beginning to see. But it is a start, and provides a solid platform for deeper research going forward.
I'll begin sharing more in the next few weeks, as I move from step 5 to step 7.
I've been thinking a lot about community lately, in a very personal way.
My family is about to move cross-country. As we prepare to depart Quincy (just outside Boston), I've been thinking long and hard about what tied me to this community over the past ten years, and questioning how deep my roots actually are.
And as we searched for our new home, there were some things that I found myself deliberately seeking in a neighborhood, and other things that didn't matter to me. Will those things I sought help me to actively develop roots in my new community in Seattle? What makes me value those things in the first place?
I am the type of person who thinks about these questions rather deliberately. How do people's preferences for a community, and their engagement in a community, relate to who they are, what they do, and their values? Are there any patterns between their preferences and values and museum visitation? Why or why not?
As a field, we have talked about all of these things. Community. Lifelong learning. Museum visitation and audiences. They have been the themes of our conferences. Countless articles have been written. We've tied them together in theory, sought connections in our work practice, and aspired to effect change in our communities or with our audiences. My questions are not new. Putting them together into a national sample of the broader population, however, will give us an opportunity to better understand the context in which our questions lie. That's important.
I also believe that the findings of this initial phase of research should be shared with the field, and that the next phase should be developed with your input. So once the survey closes, and analysis begins, I'll be sharing findings here on The Data Museum as well as my Facebook page and Twitter feed. These findings are for you to discuss, question, and use. Share with me what issues they raise for you. What new ideas come out of them. Your feedback will help make the next round of research even stronger.
Oh, and one last thing. The survey also includes a ringer of a question. More soon!
I respectfully acknowledge that I live and work on the traditional lands of the Duwamish people. I thank them for the care of this land, and I endeavor to help museums bring forward a more complete and inclusive history and culture in their work.