There is no Student Feedback service in the Spring Term, so I have no formal statistics with which to evaluate the course. Both Elizabeth and I had 90-100% positive responses for the enhanced version of ARH 1000 in informal feedback administered throughout the course. I had only one exception, a student who came to me early in the course and said that she would prefer a course taught in the classroom only. (!) I helped her switch into another section. The rest of the students were very enthusiastic.
In the beginning, there were some adjustment problems – about half the students in the classes didn’t do as well as expected on the first two quizzes. After requesting to see student notebooks, I came to the conclusion that some students went into a conditioned “field trip mode” during MAM sessions, and especially when we had guest speakers or went elsewhere, such as Government Center, to hear presentations on the Art in Public Places program. Though the students seemed attentive and engaged, they weren’t ‘retaining’ or taking quality notes. The rigorous academic expectations of the students were discussed at the outset of class and explicit in the syllabus, but I believe the novelty of the museum experience ‘tipped logic on its head’ for a number of them. Addressing this problem directly and a session on effective note-taking solved the problem. From then on, students performed as well or better than those in my ‘un-enhanced’ ARH 1000 sections.
The inconvenienced of meeting off-campus was minimized by free MetroMover service. No grumbles about it. There was no difference in attendance rates – I adhere to my attendance policy in all classes and remind students of it throughout the term.
The students, as hoped, began to take ownership of their museum experience – and many brought friends and family to MAM’s public events and openings. A few became members of MAM and others enjoyed the Lowe so much they joined at the student level. A common assessment of the experience was the exclamation, “I never knew we (Miami) had so much art everywhere!”
One unexpected result was that the MAM Docents began attending the classes as well, to enhance the content of their exhibition tours. I was also invited to speak at their monthly meetings. This connection has not continued, as their Education Department is in a transition period.