Interpretation for Archeologists   4. Tools For Interpreters   Distance Learning

Audience-Centered Interpretation

Audience-centered interpretation facilitates audiences' intellectual and emotional connections with archeological resources through co-creative techniques. It is different from "sage on the stage" interpretation, in which interpreters present themselves as an authority on a topic and elicit little back-and-forth from the audience. Audience-centered interpretation, on the other hand, invites audience members to share authority and interact with the interpreter and each other.

A primary technique for audience-centered interpretation is facilitated dialogue, in which interpreters elicit ideas and information from the audience for shared and collective learning. They draw on dialogic questions, which draw on the unique experiences and feelings of each audience member. For challenging or controversial topics, interpreters employ the Arc of Dialogue, a structure for difficult conversations.

Audience-centered interpretation provides a tool to engage audiences in sharing multiple perspectives, especially for topics that have many facets. Given the increasing diversity both in NPS audiences and the perspectives interpreted in parks, audience-centered interpretation can deepen the richness of resource-based interpretation by creating experiences where audiences learn from each other while learning about the resources.

For Your Information

The NPS Interpretive Division offers extensive guidance on audience-centric interpretation.

Interpretation in the 21st Century Purpose, Philosophy, Principles, and Practice (NPS Common Learning Portal)
Learn about the purpose and philosophy behind audience-centric interpretation, one of the professional competencies for interpreters.

Audience Centered Interpretation (NPS Common Learning Portal)
Discover techniques to elicit participation from the public to enrich interpretive programs. Read, in particular the Audience Centered Experience Interpretation Workbook, classes for interpreters, a training guide, and train-the-trainer classes.

Use What You Know: Assess Your Knowledge (#4 of 10)

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Review the tools discussed in the Tools for Interpreters section. Which are most useful to you? Why?