Museum Visits Linked to Improved Critical Thinking Skills

BY Kathy Crosett
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Not all learning takes place in the classroom. As schools close for summer break, museums will be appealing to parents and organizations like day camps, to increase traffic and promote learning of a different kind.  The Educational Value of Field Trips, a study published in Education Next  by Jay Greene, a professor of education reform at the University of Arkansas, shows the positive impact of an art museum visit on a child. These field trips improve a child’s critical thinking and also increase the likelihood that the child will return to the museum, often with family members.

Greene and his associates studied children between the ages of 3 and 12 who made a half-​day trip to an art museum and compared outcomes with a control group which did not visit a museum. Researchers measured key takeaways such as general interest in museums and empathy and tolerance for differences in cultures. They discovered the greatest impact occurred in economically disadvantaged student populations where they measured an 18% increase in critical thinking ability after a museum visit. Children in rural areas also show a significant increase in critical thinking and expansion in their tolerance for different cultures after a museum field trip.

This study  included the distribution of free coupons to families of students who went to the museum and to those who didn’t. Not surprisingly, the families of children who had made the museum field trip were more likely to use the free coupons and visit the museum again.

Museums may be able to attract a larger audience by appealing to likely museum visitors with daily deals or other types of coupons according to Ad-​ology Research. About 30% of these consumers say they’ve taken action as a result of such deals in the past 30 days while 60% have done so in the past year.  Newspapers remain a key source for 30.7% of Likely Museum Visitors to find coupons. About 22.7% of all U.S. adults indicate an interest in visiting museums this year and  30.9% have children between the ages of 5 and 12.

AudienceSCAN data is available as part of a subscription to Ad-​ology PRO. Media companies can access AudienceSCAN data through the Audience Intelligence Reports in AdMall.