Advanced KA connects audience interests and perspectives
to resource meanings. This component provides tools
for acquiring advanced KA as well as understanding of
its interpretive value.
the completion of this component the learner will be
ways in which advanced KA supports the interpreter's
ability to facilitate opportunities for audiences
to make intellectual and emotional connections to
the meanings and significance inherent in the resource;
advanced research and analytical skills to acquire
Advanced KA is used to identify ways the resource is
relevant to given audiences.
Advanced KA helps connect audience interests and perspectives
to resource meanings and appropriate interpretive techniques.
research is not confined to formal social science studies.
While full performance interpreters should understand
and be able to participate in such studies, each interpreter
has an ongoing responsibility to use personal research
techniques to pursue advanced KA relevant to their resource.
Advanced KA helps interpreters identify multiple audience
interests and perspectives as well as ways the resource
is relevant to distinct audiences.
Advanced KA helps interpreters meet audiences on their
The NPS employs methodologies, standards, and protocols
of science and history to:
make management decisions;
b) be accurate;
c) educate the public;
d) provide data and analysis.
Audiences often ascribe the resource meanings that
fall outside the strict realm of science and history.
3. While interpreters ground their work in science
and history, they are obligated to respect and honestly
and accurately recognize and use perspectives that
go beyond those disciplines to facilitate connections
between the meanings of resources and the interests
Advanced KA helps interpreters use KR and resource meanings
to tailor interpretive products to specific audiences.
Full performance interpreters do not alter the facts
from one audience to another; however, full performance
interpreters do change interpretive approach and strategy
in order to more effectively provide opportunities for
distinct audiences to forge connections to the resource.
Advanced KA helps interpreters modify presentations
in progress based on a sense of audience reaction.
Advanced KA helps interpreters interpret multiple meanings,
multiple points of view, critical resource issues, and
E. Advanced KA provides essential elements for strategies
of inclusion. [See Module 110: Visitor Needs and Characteristics,
Strategies of Inclusion component].
Advanced KA provides essential elements for constituency
building. [See Module 110: Visitor Needs and Characteristics,
Constituency Building component].
"The people who come to the park and attend programs
or encounter the Ranger in situations of seeking
information display knowledge about parks in general
and the park in particular ranging from complete
ignorance to highly knowledgeable. They are casual
visitors bent upon enjoying themselves on vacation;
they are tour groups eager to learn about the park
and its opportunities for enjoyable activities;
they are officials of local or state governments
or of other federal agencies; they are individual
landowners or homeowners associations near the park
who are upset about park policies; they are dignitaries
of the U.S. or foreign governments; they are school
children, school teachers, school administrators;
they are college students, college professors, or
other scholars; they are nationally and internationally
recognized subject matter experts; they are advocates
of causes and people just looking for fun and escape
from their daily routines; they are writers or representatives
of the media on assignments. They come to the park
for widely varying reasons and with widely varying
degrees of interest and involvement and willingness
to receive the interpretive messages." (citation:
National Park Service GS-0025-09 Park Ranger Interpretation
Position Description, 14.)
All who visit a resource are unique individuals.
b) Many individuals visit resources as parts of
groups and are influenced by their social interaction,
shared identity, and perspective of the group.
c) Individuals also visit resources apart from groups
but are influenced by their identity with groups.
Audiences who access resources via the classroom,
internet, agency publications, cooperating association
publications, private publications, or word of mouth
are potentially even more diverse than those who
visit a resource in person.
2. Audiences who never visit a resource are critical
to its stewardship. Their level of care about the
resource or the agency that is responsible for the
resource ultimately affects care for the resource.
3. Off-site audiences may include audiences who
are under-represented on-site. This provides opportunities
for reaching under-represented audiences in an inclusive
manner. [See Module 110: Visitor Needs and Characteristics,
Strategies of Inclusion
component and Constituency Building
Subjective perspectives affect the way in which audiences
perceive and interact with resources.
2. Learning Styles
3. Experience-Direct or indirect (education, reading,
film, etc.) exposure to similar types of resources,
4. Culture and/or country of origin
World view, traditions, assumptions, and understandings
of family, friends, values, and community
b) History of inclusion or exclusion
Religion-May or may not embrace formally defined disciplines
of science, history, and anthropology
6. Access-Physical, mental, and learning disabilities
Quantity of knowledge relevant to the resource
b) Perspective of knowledge relevant to the resource
Economic class-Access to experiences and/or education
relevant to the resource
9. Mood-May or may not be receptive due to current
10. Social group-Mood and subjective perspectives
of those who are sharing an experience with the
Audiences who desire to experience the resource seek
something of value for themselves (See Module 101 Tenets)
Some have personal understanding and meaning already
realized, but desire exposure to the resource.
b) Many expect the resource to possess some meaning
and relevance, but have varying degrees of understanding
as to what those meanings and relevance might
Audiences represent a range of specific motivations
3. Visitors seek quality experiences (See Visitor
Needs and Characteristics Module 110, Quality Visitor Experiences component.)
Prior perspectives on subject matter
While most audiences have some appreciation for
technology, many have little understanding of
the process and workings of science. (Note: Much
of the following discussion of audience perspectives
on science comes from Shamos, Morris H. The Myth
of Scientific Literacy, Rutgers University Press,
New Brunswick, New Jersey, 1995. Chapter 3.)
Science is often believed to be interesting,
but too difficult and unrewarding to learn in
(2) Most of the public is unaware of the process
and work of formal science.
(3) Many are confused by the scientific meanings
of words like:
(e) Scientific method
Many have impressions of science generated by
Science as technology
(b) Science as entertainment
(c) Science as undermining tradition and values
(d) Science as progress
(e) Science as static and unchanging
(f) Science as the domain of "geeks" and outsiders
(g) Science as conspiracy
(h) Science as anti-religion
Some of the public does understand the process
and workings of science as well as hold scientific
expertise in a given area(s).
Some audiences bring expectations to a given type
Fossil, geology, volcanic sites, etc. might
draw audiences with a more sophisticated knowledge
of science as well as audiences with less scientific
background who want to know more. These resources
might also draw audiences with deeply held convictions
(2) Sites with primarily recreational opportunities
might draw audiences with less interest in learning
about science, even if they have a sophisticated
While most audiences have some appreciation for
the past, many lack an understanding of the profession
b) Audiences often have their own interpretations
and descriptions of historic "truth." (Note: Much
of the following is taken from Glassberg, David.
"Presenting History to the Public: The Study of
Memory and the Uses of the Past," CRM, Volume 21,
Number 11, 1998, Understanding the Past, 4-8.)
Differing perspectives on history and memory
speak, often unconsciously and as "the" truth,
to the ideals, self-image, and identity of groups.
The interpreted and "inherited" history of an
event or resource can:
articulate political ideology;
(b) define the boundaries of group identity
as well as hold the group together;
(c) can represent the struggle of oppressed
The public has perceptions of history generated
by popular culture:
(f) Popular press
(g) Educational systems
An individual's perspectives and perceptions
of history can be influenced by any of the subjective
perspectives listed above.
Some audiences bring expectations to a given type
Memorials, monuments, battlefields, might draw
audiences with very specific expectations about
commemoration, behavior, and veneration.
(2) Historic homes and re-creations might draw
audiences with specific interests in knowledge
of material culture.
(3) Many audiences may expect a sense of nostalgia
based on their personal past experiences, ancestral
experiences or other sources of personal identification
with the resource and/or its stories.
All audience research, ranging from formal social
science and organized studies to informal, personal,
and anecdotal, provides data and information about
groups of people.
b) KA does not equal knowledge of the individual
c) Individual visitors are always an exception to
generalizations as each visitor represents subjective
influences, variables, and nuances that do not conform
Personal bias-Identify personal bias to effectively
conduct audience research. (See Identifying and Removing Bias from Interpretive
and Education Programs, Module 201).
3. Organizing responses-While participating in organized
studies, having informal conversations with audience
members, or doing secondary research, identify and
record how audience members might or did:
ascribe meaning to the resource;
b) express interest in the resource;
c) identify their own emotional and intellectual
connections to the resource.
"An accurate understanding of the relationship
between people and parks is critical to both
protecting resources unimpaired and providing
for public enjoyment. The social sciences-those
sciences that explore the human condition-are
valued disciplines in the scientific repertoire
needed by the NPS."
(2) "The objectives of the NPS social science
program are to conduct and promote state-of-the-art
social science related to the mission of the
National Park Service, and deliver usable knowledge
to NPS managers and the public."
Products and Programs
Science Research Review Series includes
papers that focus on issues critical to the
management of the National Park System. The
purpose of each review is to provide the basis
for scientific understanding of the issue. Experts
are commissioned to write the review papers,
and each paper is peer-reviewed. (Note: Hard
copies are available from the Social Science
Program Office (202) 513-7190)
(2) The Visitor
Services Project has conducted over 120
visitor studies in units of the National Park
System. The primary purpose of these studies
has been to provide park managers with accurate
information about visitors-who they are, what
they do, their needs and opinions. For a list
and access to completed studies see the Social
(3) Focus Groups: A Tool for Evaluating Interpretive
Services, A National Park Service training package,
Cooperative Park Studies Unit, University of
Idaho, National Park Foundation. This is an
effective training package and should be consulted
when designing formal visitor research projects.
It was written before the Paperwork Reduction
Act of 1995 (PRA) was passed. The PRA requires
that all information collections from the public
in which "identical questions" are asked of
"10 or more persons" must be approved by the
Office of Management and Budget (OMB). Focus
groups, if they are composed of ten or more
visitors, now fall under the scope of the PRA.
NPS Social Science Program provides technical assistance
for those wishing to design visitor research projects
and it oversees the OMB approval process for all NPS-funded
or sponsored visitor studies. Questions regarding the
OMB approval process should be directed to the Visiting
Chief Social Scientist via the NPS
Social Science Program.
This pre-approved (by the Office of Management
and Budget) training package establishes procedures
by which individual NPS sites may conduct
focus groups with 9 individual visitors or
(b) The package makes valuable qualitative
visitor study inexpensive and easy to conduct.
(c) Any full-performance ranger, with the
cooperation of park management, should be
able to conduct research using this approach.
(d) This package was distributed to all NPS
units in 1992. Access a copy within the resource
or contact the regional or support office.
Universities and other partners
Local colleges and universities often provide
opportunities for conducting formal audience studies.
b) The NPS Social Science Program offer access
to a variety of potential social science partners.
c) When developing any new formal audience study
(other than one based on the Focus Groups: A Tool
for Evaluating Interpretive Services), contact
the Visiting Chief Social Scientist via the NPS
Social Science Webpage for Office of Management
and Budget approval. The NPS Social Science Program
provides technical assistance for those wishing
to design visitor research projects and it oversees
the OMB approval process for all NPS-funded or
sponsored visitor studies. Questions regarding
the OMB approval process should be directed to
the Visiting Chief Social Scientist via the NPS
Social Science Program website.
regular OMB approval process takes approximately 6 months,
including two separate public comment periods. The NPS
Social Science Program has received OMB approval for
a program of visitor surveys in which the public is
asked questions within the scope of pre-approved topic
areas dealing with visitors and visitor experiences.
This Expedited Approval process takes a minimum of 45
days and applies to studies of park visitors only. Any
NPS-funded or sponsored research which collects information
from members of the public who are not park visitors
falls within the scope of the regular OMB approval process.
Anyone proposing to conduct research which involves
individuals who are not park visitors should contact
the NPS Social Science Program for technical assistance.
Samples of Federal Register notices, survey instruments
and submissions for approval are available.
document, Expedited Approval for Visitor Surveys: Guidelines
and Approval Form, was published by the NPS Social Science
Program in October 1999. It outlines the process by
which one submits a visitor survey for review and expedited
approval by the NPS Social Science Program and OMB.
The Principal Investigator (PI) of any proposed visitor
study (who could be an NPS staff person, university
researcher through a Cooperative Park Studies Unit,
Cooperative Ecosystem Studies Unit, or others) must
submit their approval form and proposed survey instrument
to the NPS Social Science Program a minimum of 45 days
before the first day they intend to administer their
survey in the field. Electronic copies of this document
are available on the NPS Social Science website.
Sources-the NPS Social Science webpage
contains both NPS specific and outside social science
resources and research.
Personal research-direct contact with audiences
Observation of and conversation with audiences
an ongoing and critical task
b) not scientific but of enormous value
c) helps an interpreter become familiar with a
wide range of audience characteristics, perspectives,
and meanings ascribed to the resource
While general information does not directly equate
to individual audience members, the more an interpreter
knows about audience characteristics, perspectives,
and the meanings audiences ascribe to the resource
the better an interpreter is able to recognize audience
characteristics and meanings as they are revealed
3. Post-presentation, observation, and conversation
Much valuable identification and understanding of
audience characteristics comes "after the fact"
or post encounter.
b) Newly encountered characteristics should be researched.
Categorize observations and conversations into
potential resource meanings, audience interests,
and connections [See Tangible/Intangible/Universal
(b) Apply increased KA to later encounters.
Respect audience privacy
Do not follow audience members
(2) Do not eavesdrop
Observe what types of groups are attracted to
specific resources and activities
Talk to audiences-probably the most important ongoing
research a full performance interpreter can do.
When possible, talk to audiences who don't like
the interpretive services offered-their criticism
can lead to better understanding of what people
of their group want and need.
b) Do not force yourself on audiences or pry, but
when there are opportunities for relaxed conversation
with audiences, ask questions like:
What does this place mean to you?
(2) What did you think about when you encountered
a given resource?
(3) If you were a ranger, what would you want
visitors to understand or care about?
(4) What should your kids know about this place
(5) What made you decide to visit this place?
(6) Has your experience been what you expected?
(7) What did you know about this place before
you came here?
(8) What does it feel like or what does it mean
to you when you do a given recreational activity?
Talk to stakeholders-groups with a special or specific
interest in the resource.
If possible, seek out leaders, elders or other respected
members of groups.
b) Be aware of the official relationship between
a given group and management.
Do not interfere with an official relationship
(2) Be clear and accurate about what you can
and cannot speak to
(3) Understand you are always an ambassador
for the resource and the agency
Know enough about the group to, if appropriate,
ask the right questions, show respect, and display
d) Ask similar questions to those in 3 of this
e) If possible, ask stakeholders to make presentations
to resource staff and fellow interpreters.
Personal research-Secondary sources
Know the demographics of audiences interacting
with their resource.
Have any demographic studies been completed?
Are they comprehensive?
(b) Are they current?
If necessary, a full performance interpreter
should advocate for such study.
(3) At the very least, observe, talk with others,
and make educated guesses about the demographics
of audiences interacting with the resource.
Know the demographics of communities in the areas
affecting the resource as well as regional and national
trends and priorities.
c) Resource-specific demographic data is a critical
starting point for researching KA.
Research all types of audiences captured by demographic
(2) Strategize their sequence of research:
Which group(s) are impacting the resource
(b) Which group(s) are least understood?
(c) Which group(s) are least represented and
(d) What are the management goals of the resource?
Consider ways in which different group characteristics
overlap in the same individuals. For example,
a resource that has a significant visitation of
senior women with college educations requires
understanding group characteristics of seniors,
women, as well as of those with higher levels
Sources already available at the resource.
(2) U.S. census materials-Use the World Wide Web
to access census records and demographic analysis.
These sources are numerous and can be found through
entering "U.S. Census" on any search engine.
(3) Local chambers of commerce and visitor information
bureaus; state divisions of tourism; international
visitor information from the NPS WASO Office of
International Affairs; international visitor information
from the U.S. Commerce Department
Questions for investigation
What is the culture of a given group?
b) What is the history of a given group?
c) What are the issues of a given group?
d) What are the customs and traditions of a given
e) What is relationship to the resource of a given
f) What is the motivation for interacting with the
resource of a given group?
g) What are the physical needs of a given group?
h) What gestures of respect would be meaningful
to a given group?
i) What is common ground between one or more given
j) What are the differences between given groups?
k) Does a given group have a specific jargon or
technical vocabulary that can be shared or avoided?
l) What is relevant Kr for a given group?
m) What are appropriate interpretive techniques
for a given group?
Read a variety of sources:
Sources intended to describe a group's characteristics
(studies, educational sources)
(2) Sources that express group characteristics
(usually authored by group members that convey
group interests, values, culture)
(3) Sources that conflict and disagree (they
are often indicative of either differences within
a group or mistaken or unfair generalizations
placed upon a group).
Books, journals, educational materials, magazines,
etc., can provide a great deal of information
about general and specific group characteristics.
c) The World Wide Web is likely the easiest, quickest,
and cheapest way to learn about audience groups.
The Web provides fast access to thousands of sites-many
that describe culture and group characteristics
and many authored by group members that demonstrate
group characteristics. Like all sources, web sources
need to be critically evaluated.
d) Talk with experts and access oral histories.
Group representatives, sociologists, ethnographers,
people of that culture
(2) Know enough to know what questions to ask
and not to ask
Record impressions and conclusions.
2. Continually measure personal conclusions against
new research and data.
b) Groups change
c) Understandings of groups change
Share and check conclusions with the conclusions
4. Avoid stereotyping and definitive characterizations
of individuals and groups.
5. Recognize the inherent limitations of all research
and Inclusion Newsletter - Constantine J. Dillon
1: Definitions of diversity and importance to interpretation.
Issue 2: Changing visitor profile Issue 3: Value of formal study Issue 4: "History, Inclusivity, and Responsibility" Douglas
E. Evelyn Issue 5: "Tree of Life" activity Issue 6: Demographics Issue 7: Landscape and gender Issue 8: Resources for dealing with diverse visitors Issue 9: "Re-examining a Metaphor for America: An Argument
for Work Force Diversity in the National Park Service"
Dennis A. Vasquez Issue 10: "Gestures: A Non-Universal Language" Issue 11: "Do the Right Thing: Inclusion in Interpretation"
Bill Gwaltney Issue 12: Cultural diversity
David. "Presenting History to the Public: The Study
of Memory and Uses of the Past." Cultural Resource Management.
Volume 21, Number 11, 1998
Theresa L., Chen, W. Jasmine, Larsen, David L. Clicking
the Icon: Exploring the Meanings Visitors Attached to
Three National Capital Memorials. Journal of Interpretation
Research. Volume 6, Number 1, 2001.
Part I (1,295k) Part
Judith H., White Awareness: Handbook for Anti-Racism
Training. Norman and London, University of Oklahoma
Morris H. The Myth of Scientific Literacy. New Brunswick,
New Jersey, Rutgers University Press, 1995. Chapter
Evaluation from a Museum Education Perspective
George E. Learning in the Museum. Routledge, 1998.
Evaluate several of your own interpretive products for
advance Ka. Do you know much about your audiences or
do you assume that most of your programs address a "general"
audience? If so, what makes your audiences general?
Are your general audiences different than general audiences
at other resources? How would knowing more about your
audience affect the tangible/intangible linkages you
choose to present as well as the techniques you use
to present them? Hypothetically identify several types
of audiences that might interact with your interpretive
products. How do you know about them? Determine how
you might change your products to provide opportunities
for intellectual and emotional connections to the resource
for each of those audiences
After consulting your supervisor, conduct several audience
focus groups that attempt to determine the meanings
audiences ascribe to the resource, their interests in
the resource, and ways in which they make connections
with the resource.
Formally or informally identify the demographic make-up
of audiences for your resource. Begin your research
with published sources or on the Internet. Look for
information about the types of people who interact with
your site. Locate information written about these people
as well as information written or created by these people.
Start an information sheet for each group you identify
using the questions in section IV. D. 2 of the outline
above. Go through the same process with groups who do
not visit your site.
Informally ask visitors questions about what meanings
the resource holds for them; what interests them about
the resource; and what kinds of connections do they
make with the resource. Create a log documenting these
If Visitor Service Project studies exist for your park
or a similar park, review them and create a profile
of visitors based on the studies' findings. Ask questions
like, "Do seasonal variations exist?"
Create a set of questions about your resource that provide
you valuable information about your audiences but are
not intimidating, prying, or make audiences feel like
they are being surveyed.