Research Centre for Museums and Galleries (RCMG)

Engage, learn, achieve

Commissioned from RCMG by Renaissance East of England and Museums, Libraries and Archives East of England, Engage, Learn Achieve investigates the impact that museums in the East of England can have on the attainment of secondary school pupils completing an assessed piece of work as a result of a museum visit. Carried out in 2006-2007, this reports builds on previous research into learning in museums, in particular What did you learn at the museum today? Second Study (2006).

Aims and objectives

This research was exploratory in nature and set out to investigate the impact on the attainment of secondary-age pupils completing a piece of assessed work as a result of a museum visit. The research involved nine schools across the East of England visiting five museums and one archive, which supplied assessment marks for 762 pupils. The marks for the museum-based assessment were compared with up to three previous pieces of work.  At the same time, 451 pupils and 11 teachers completed questionnaires at the end of their museum visit about their learning experiences.  Four case studies used observation and interviews with pupils and teachers to look in-depth at how schools can benefit from using museums as part of the curriculum.

Key findings

The evidence from the study suggests that museums can have a positive impact on pupil attainment when an assessed piece of work is completed in tandem with a visit. The report examines the reasons for the improvement and analyses why some pupils do better than others. It found that museums support the needs of pupils with different learning styles, in particular the ‘less able’ who responded very well to museum based learning, but it also found that pupils of all abilities improved their marks. Gender differences were not apparent. Museum learning appears to support boys and girls in equal measure and go some way to eliminate the learning style differences between the genders that are apparent in classrooms. Museums motivate pupils to do well, provide an immersive learning experience that is both enjoyable and enables learning to take place. The relationship between the school and the museum was important and the role of experienced learning or education staff in the museum was a critical factor in ensuring the success of the visit.


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