Theses Doctoral

Museum-Based Teacher Education: Teacher Meaning-Making at a Jewish Heritage Museum

Goldberg, David Russell

This study answers the question of what meanings teacher-participants make in Holocaust professional development at a Jewish heritage museum in a mandate state. By understanding these meanings, the educational community can better understand how a particular context and approach influences teacher meaning-making and the ways in which museum teacher education programs shape the learning of participants. Meaning-making is a process of interpretation and understanding experiences in ways that make sense to each individual teacher. Meanings that are formed may impact teachers' pedagogic interpretation of the Holocaust, which may in turn shape their instructional practices. This instrumental case study used multiple interviews, observations, surveys and documents to explore the meanings teachers make about the Holocaust from participation in Holocaust professional development at a Jewish heritage museum. Participants in the study included nine teachers from public schools and private Jewish schools and two professional developers from the Museum. Each participant was interviewed three times, and six different professional development programs were observed over a period of six months. Programs typically lasted from one to six days and included a presentation by museum staff, Holocaust experts, and survivors. At any museum, each representation of the Holocaust conveys particular messages and mediates Holocaust history through a particular lens. This study reveals insights about how intended aims are interpreted in Holocaust professional development. Three categories emerged of meanings teachers made, namely (1) the hopeful narrative, (2) identity, and (3) the emotional narrative of the Holocaust. This study contributes to the larger field of professional development by partially filling in an area of missing scholarship on Holocaust professional development. Findings from this study may be used to plan future professional development programs on the Holocaust, as well as on other topics, through a deeper understanding of the meanings teachers make of multiple programs at one site.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Teaching of Social Studies
Thesis Advisors
Gaudelli III, William
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
June 28, 2013