2010-14 Elementary Longitudinal Case Study Final Report

The Gardner Museum has used Visual Thinking Strategies (VTS) as its main pedagogy with local Boston schools for nine years. What began as an update to our own teaching methods and curriculum has evolved into significant changes in school culture at the Tobin K-8 School—including intensive professional development for classroom teachers and more art discussions for students. In addition the relationships between the Gardner Museum and the partner schools changed dramatically: instead of focusing on multiple-visits for students in one or two grades, we now work with many students over their entire K-5 academic careers. As more of our partner schools committed to whole-school involvement, we sought to track the effects of the School Partnership Program and VTS on elementary students over a longer period of time.

Click here to read the executive summary, or download the full report using the link below.

Young Adult Study

With the support of a Wallace Excellence Award, the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum contracted with Randi Korn & Associates, Inc. to study its young adult visitors. The study was part of an initiative to engage young adults between 18 and 34 years old, and to create conditions for a compelling experience at the Gardner that will foster continuing relationships with the museum.

The Role of Asking Young Children to Provide Evidence for their Observations in Visual Thinking Strategies Discussions

This Executive Summary prepared by Gardner Museum Teaching Intern, Sarah O'Leary ('09-'10), summarizes a forty-page study which analyzes the appropriateness of asking "What do you see that makes you say that?" (Question 2 in a Visual Thinking Strategies discussion) to children ages 3-6.

The full report presents the following:
• A review of Visual Thinking Strategies (VTS) methodology
• An overview of perspectives focusing on cognitive and metacognitive development for children ages 3-6
• An examination of how our knowledge of metacognition stands to inform how VTS is facilitated
• A discussion concerning how VTS discussion benefit the development of cognitive and metacognitive skills
• Recommendations for moving forward both in research and in practice.


Impact of Adaptation of Visual Thinking Strategies in 8th Grade School Partnership Program

This report presents the impact of Visual Thinking Strategies (VTS), as adapted and
implemented in the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum’s 8th Grade School Partnership Program (SPP). VTS is a curriculum and teaching method developed by Visual Understanding in Education, which uses art to support the growth of aesthetic and critical thinking and communication skills. This report discusses the effect of the program on the aesthetic and critical thinking of participating students, as well as on the aesthetic thinking of participating teachers.

Qualitative Study on Local Visitors' Perception of the Gardner

In June 2010, the Gardner contracted with the Institute for Learning Innovation (ILI), a Maryland‐based, non‐profit research and evaluation organization, in order to augment the results of a large‐scale,
Wallace Foundation‐funded quantitative study. ILI conducted a focused, qualitative study that provided in‐depth data about local visitors’ long‐term perceptions of their Gardner Museum experience. Semi‐structured, retrospective interviews were conducted with 31 museum visitors, months after their Gardner experience.