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Object-based Learning Research
Object-based Learning at UCL
In recent years, pioneering research into the value of
object-based learning (OBL) in a higher education context has been undertaken at
University College London. This research was prompted by the observation that
whilst a rich literature on the use of collections in museum and gallery
education existed, little had been written on the particular benefits of this
method of learning for university programmes – despite universities holding
large and unique collections of art works, manuscripts, specimens, rare books
and artefacts. In response, Dr Helen Chatterjee, and her colleagues Dr Rosalind
Duhs and Dr Leonie Hannan, have developed a programme of research dedicated to
uncovering the ways in which museum collections can enhance learning for
undergraduate and postgraduate students.
This research is strongly linked to pedagogies of active and experiential learning, which sees hands-on engagement with the object of study as key to personal meaning-making and the long-term retention of ideas. The research uses a variety of methods including surveys, semi-structured interviews, focus groups and observations.
OBL and the Student Experience
To date the focus
has been on the student experience of learning through objects and data
collected between 2010 and 2012 revealed that a majority of students, across a
range of disciplines, thought object-based learning was a more effective method of
learning than a lecture or talk. This was a compelling finding, but since then
the research team has sought to explore in more detail the spectrum of practice
in object-based learning sessions and the ways in which different disciplines
use objects to help students understand new knowledge and develop key skills.
An aim of future research is to find out how tactile engagements with museum objects affect learning and to explore the different kinds of interactions students might have with 2D and 3D material.
Helen J. Chatterjee and Leonie Hannan have a book entitled Object-Based Learning in Higher Education forthcoming with Ashgate. The book brings together an international network of contributors from universities and museums in the UK, USA, Europe and Asia and presents the first comprehensive exploration of object-based learning as a pedagogy for higher education.
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Chatterjee, H.J. (ed.) (2008b), Touch in Museums: Policy and practice in object handling. Oxford: Berg.
Chatterjee, H.J. and Duhs, R. (2010), ‘OBL in Higher Education’, CETLD Learning at the Interface Conference Proceedings
Chatterjee, H.J. (2011), ‘Object-Based Learning In Higher Education: The pedadogical power of museums’, University Museums and Collections Journal, 3, 179-181.
Duhs, R. (2010), ‘Learning from University Museums and Collections in Higher Education: University College London (UCL)’, University Museums and Collections Journal, 3, 183-6.
Hannan, L, Duhs, R. and Chatterjee, H.J. (2013). ‘Object Based Learning: a powerful pedagogy for higher education’. In Museums and Higher Education Working Together: Challenges and Opportunities. Eds. A. Boddington, J. Boys & C. Speight. Farnham & Burlington: Ashgate, pp. 159-168
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