Classroom Realities: Results of the 2007 National Survey of Teachers

By The National Museum of American History (NMAH) and Smithsonian’s Office of Policy and Analysis
April 2008

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This report contains the results of NMAH’s nationwide survey of teachers. The aim was to learn what types of museum-produced educational resources they use or prefer to use. The results show the influence of standardized testing, the No Child Left Behind Act, and increasing technological literacy. The appendix includes a list of the most visited Websites for classroom resources.

In 2007, the National Museum of American History (NMAH) conducted a nationwide survey of teachers in order to learn what types of museum produced educational resources they use or prefer to use. NMAH has a long history of producing innovative object-based history curricula and distance learning opportunities inspired by its exhibitions. Staff suspected that recent changes in America’s classrooms—spurred by the No Child Left Behind Act and the growing availability of educational technology—meant that teachers had different needs than in the past. Teachers were canvassed to help the museum create the next generation of need-responsive resources and materials for student and teacher use.

Study Approach
Collaborating with the Smithsonian’s Office of Policy and Analysis (OP&A), NMAH identified data requirements, developed a survey instrument, and devised a study strategy based on a convenience sample, i.e., distributing a questionnaire to classroom teachers attending conferences and workshops sponsored by the National Council for History Education, the National Council for Social Studies, the Smithsonian Associates, and the Smithsonian Center for Education and Museum Studies. Two, slightly different versions of the questionnaire were distributed (See Appendix A for a copy of one questionnaire). In the end, 967 teachers at twenty events completed survey forms at locations ranging from Fairbanks, AK to Lafayette, LA. (See Appendix B for a list of the locations).

Given the nature of the sample, we cannot generalize these findings to the national population. We can say, however, that they form a reasonable approximation for the audience reached and intended by the museum for its offerings.

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