Supervisor: Dr Kate Pahl
Title of Thesis:
How do families with very young children (18-36 months) make meaning in a museum?
The aim of my research is to understand what happens when families with very young children (age 18-36 months) visit a museum. I am interested how the families have a social and learning experience in the museum. What do such young children make of the museum environment, filled with unfamiliar objects, spaces, text and actions, all of which rely mainly on written language and the visual for their meaning?
My research takes an ethnographic approach and is carried out at two museum sites in South Yorkshire. I am interested in the sensory, emplaced and embodied nature of being in a museum (drawing on Pink, 2009). In addition, I draw on theories of space and place as dynamic and socially produced (Lefevbre, 1991, Soja, 2004). The multimodal nature of communication (Kress, 1996, 2010) has been an important lens through which I have been able to make sense of the meaning making of young children in museums. Throughout this work, I ground my perspective in the new sociology of childhood, in that I recognise the agency of young children as social actors, and attempt to understand the museum and their actions from their perspective (James and Prout, 1997, Christenson and James, 2008).
Hackett, A. Forthcoming, Zigging and Zooming all over the place: Young children’s meaning making and moving in the museum, Journal of Early Childhood Literacy.
Hackett, A. Forthcoming, Running and learning in the museum: a study of young children’s behaviour in the museum, and their parents’ discursive positioning of that behaviour, Childhoods Today.
Recent conference papers
Running, dancing and walking as multimodal communication of young children, paper given at 6th International Conference of Multimodality, 2012, Institute of Education.
How the museum became a children’s place, paper given at Space, Place and Social Justice symposium, 2012, Manchester Met University.
Children, Space and Placemaking,Symposium at Celebrating Childhood Diversity Conference, 2012, University of Sheffield. With Lisa Procter.
Academic funded projects
Collaborative Ethnography and Public Engagement, 2012
Funded by University of Sheffield Research Enterprise Innovation Fund to explore the processes of collaborating in ethnographic research, and the affordances of this for public engagement. With Dr Kate Pahl, Kath Swinney and Parven Akhter.
ESRC Social Science Fest 2011
Funded by ESRC to organise a ‘Museum of Rock’ in which members of the public engaged in the departmental geology collection in innovative ways. With Dr Camilla Priede.
I am associate tutor for the full time Masters Course at School of Education and the BA in Education, Culture and Childhood.
Other academic activities
I am a strategy group member for the Centre for the Study of Childhood and Youth. I am involved in organising the postgrad events programme and reading group.
I am a member of the Centre for the Study of New Literacies, and involved in organising the annual international conference.
I was post graduate rep 2011-2012 for School of Education.
External consultancy work
I continue to carry out external research and evaluation consultancy work for the cultural sector. Sample recent projects include:
Hadrian’s Wall Connecting Lights project evaluation.
Museums Sheffield Forging Futures project evaluation.
Leeds Museum Service i transform adult learning project evaluation, with Dr Kate Pahl.
Family Learning Intervention Programme Evaluation, Read on Write Away, Derbyshire.