Developing accessible museum curriculum: the research, development and validation of a handbook for museum professionals and educators



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Kansas State University


The purpose of this study was to create a handbook for school and museum educators to support their development of curriculum materials that provide meaningful access to diverse learners. The handbook was developed using the research and development methodology (R&D) developed by Borg and Gall (1989). The steps in the R&D cycle used in this study included:
(1) Research analysis and proof of concept; a proof of concept consisted of interviews with three national experts in the areas of accessibility, education, and museum education to determine the need for the resource. (2) Product planning and design; information was gathered through a literature review, curriculum materials derived from a collaborative partnership between Kansas State University and the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum were used as examples. (3) Product development; a prototype of the handbook was created. (4) Preliminary field test; the handbook was evaluated by five national leaders in the fields of education, accessibility, and museum education. (5) Product revision; revisions were made based on feedback from the preliminary field test. (6) Main field test; seven potential users from the areas of education and museum education reviewed the handbook. (7) Operational product revision; feedback from the main field test was used for final revisions. Conclusions:

  1. There was a need for a resource to assist professionals in the design of curriculum materials that were accessible to diverse learners in both the school and museum setting.
  2. The handbook was useful to both intended audiences. Museum educators found the handbook expanded their thinking to include cognitive accessibility. School educators reported the handbook increased their skills in designing learning activities for diverse learners.
  3. The handbook provided specific instructions in the applications of differentiated instruction and universal design to curriculum developed for museums.
  4. Physical accessibility was accepted as an important concern for museum educators. This awareness provided a useful bridge to cognitive accessibility.
  5. Cognitive accessibility was accepted as an important concern for school educators. The handbook increased their skills in reaching diverse learners.
  6. Both museum and school educators appreciated the technology resources that prompted reviewers’ expanded thinking.



Curriculum, Accessibility, Special education, Museum education, Disabilities, Universal design

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Doctor of Education


Department of Educational Leadership

Major Professor

Gerald D. Bailey