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Art Museums, School Visits and Critical Thinking: A Case Study of Programmatic Strategies

Thesis by Beth Smith (2015)

This research study sought to describe the programmatic strategies used within art museum school field trips to facilitate the development of students’ critical thinking skills. Data were collected using a case study approach, with interviews conducted with two members of each institution’s education department. Key findings show all case study museums were motivated to focus on critical thinking out of a desire to be of value to schools, and to capitalize on the educational assets of their museum. There were similarities and differences in the strategies used for facilitating critical thinking. For example, all three cases used inquiry-based, gallery discussions to guide students through the practice of critical thinking, however the specific nature of their inquiry strategies differed. Overall, study results fill a gap in literature on programmatic strategies for impacting critical thinking skill development within school programs in art museums.


Keywords: critical thinking, art museums, schools, case study, learning, research, programs, education, field trips


Smith, B. A. (2015). Art museums, school visits and critical thinking: A case study of programmatic strategies. ProQuest Dissertations Publishing. (Order No. 1600409). Available from Dissertations & Theses @ University of Washington WCLP; ProQuest Dissertations & Theses Global. (1723905277). Retrieved from