King's College London

Research portal

Learning together? What are, and what could be, the experiences of adult participants to 'family workshops' in an art museum?

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Phillipa Ellis, Heather King

Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Art & Design Education
Accepted/In press29 Jun 2021

King's Authors


Galleries have long welcomed, and long valued, visiting family groups, and many offer ‘family workshops’. In practice, most workshops are primarily directed at children, and accompanying adults are left to observe. However, we suggest that in actively observing and also pitching in, adults too are engaged in learning. Using the theoretical lens of intent participation, we discuss data from field observations of family workshops and adult focus groups to document the ways in which adults learn while attending child-focused activities. Over 220 adults and 200 children were observed over a 2-month period attending family workshops in an art museum in London. Findings demonstrate that accompanying adults engaged in the key processes of intent participation: the adults participated in focused and attentive listening, and the detailed watching of others. They also sought new information and actively contributed to the wider output of the family group. We conclude by suggesting that the lens of intent participation, which was initially coined to describe the nature of learning in many traditional, non-Western, settings, offers designers of family workshops a useful framework for reflecting upon, and thereafter enhancing, the experiences of the adult members of a participating family.

View graph of relations

© 2020 King's College London | Strand | London WC2R 2LS | England | United Kingdom | Tel +44 (0)20 7836 5454