From acquisition to inquiry: Supporting informal educators through iterative implementation of practice
In this chapter, we describe a project that addressed the unique professional development needs of docents. The vignette that opened the chapter took place about a year into a NASA-funded school trip project at the museum, at a point when the leadership on this project had undergone a complete turnover, and new leaders were attempting to understand what was happening with the project and what was necessary to move it forward and ensure its success. Elsewhere, we describe the nature of docent change in more detail (Allen & Crowley, 2014). Here, we expand upon the processes our project followed to encourage docents to embrace an inquiry-centered approach to learning. For this work, we draw from transcripts of meetings with the docents, open-ended survey results from a brief written satisfaction survey conducted after a docent training, and the results of one-on-one, semi-structured interviews conducted with seven of the most active docents on the project. The first author conducted these interviews after the spring semester when the first round of new school trips were tested and implemented.