7    Interpretive Products



Module IV

Interpretive Products and Assessment


classroom seminar



§    Assess interpretive products

§    Working together


Lessons to Learn

§    Using the Interpretive Analysis Model

§    Responding to assessment

§    Innovative solutions



The Vietnam Memorial, originally a controversial design, is now one of the most visited and revered memorials in the National Park System


“Craft is the intention of a unified practice—hand, heart and mind combined in critique and affirmation, a harnessing of pleasure to learning.”

-Michael Shanks, 1992





Module IV: Interpretive Products and Assessment


This section presents an overview of the topics and information presented in Module IV: Archeological Interpretive Products and Assessment, which is designed to be presented in a classroom seminar of presentations and discussion.




In addition to assessing interpretive products, one main goal of the presentation of archeological interpretive products during this module is to give each participant an opportunity to discuss the challenges and opportunities gained by working together. Given the variation in circumstances for each park (size, visitation, budget, staff, extent of previous or ongoing archeological research and interpretive programming), participants will gain a good cross-section of ideas and approaches to meet a broad range of interpretive goals. 




Before assembling for this last module in the four-course program, participants will assemble a presentation for delivery to the course participants during this session.


Participants will use the Interpretive Analysis Model to assess each other’s products.  This model evaluates the effectiveness of interpretive products on the basis of visitor experience at three different levels:


Short-term outcomes

  • immediate visitor response

Long-term outcomes

  • meeting the long term mission of the Park Service, especially promoting an ethic of stewardship among the public

Audience feedback

  • measuring the degree to which audiences form effective links with archeological resources



Lessons Learned


Participants will use the Interpretive Analysis Model to assess products and will receive and respond to assessments of their own products.



Product Development


Interpretive products for this course could vary widely, for example from a public lecture on a single topic to a sample brochure to a full set of printed media (waysides, maps, brochures, booklets) that explore a particular archeological theme. Products developed for this module should be based on real interpretive issues in each park to enhance the likelihood that they will be produced and incorporated into the park’s public interpretative program. Depending on interpretive development, budgetary considerations, and other park-specific issues, the interpretive products presented during this course may range from detailed outlines to final drafts ready for production.



Program Assessment


To complement participant discussion of the four-module training program, the course concludes with a written assessment of the program. The written evaluation will allow participants to rate the content, faculty, case studies, reading materials, etc. of each individual course as well as the overall effectiveness of the entire training program. The assessment includes opportunities for participants to recommend improvements to the program as well.


In 2005 Module IV likely will be held in conjunction with the 8th Annual US/ICOMOS International Symposium in Charleston, South Carolina whose meeting theme is “Interpretation.” This unique opportunity will allow participants to benefit from an international forum on the public interpretation of cultural resources.


Working Together


The effective interpretation of archeological resources is best achieved when archeologists, interpreters and other individuals responsible for the care of our nation’s cultural resources, work together.  This training program has been designed to provide the tools – knowledge, experience, and practice – as well as the opportunity for archeologists and interpreters to apply the elements of this shared competency to the specific cultural resources with which they work. Through this course of study archeologists learn to apply appropriate interpretive tools to effectively engage visitors and promote interest, participation, and stewardship.  Interpreters learn about archeological methods and how archeological interpretations are made.  This in turn helps interpreters ascribe meaning to archeological resources to increase public understanding and concern for the preservation and protection of archeological resources.  Working together, archeologists and interpreters strengthen their contribution to the enduring goal of securing public stewardship of our nation’s cherished cultural resources.





CHRS home

An Inspiring Guide

I. Introduction

II. Overview of the Program

III. Meeting the Mission

IV. The Public Meaning of Archeological Heritage

V. Archeology and Interpretation

VI. Study Tour of Parks

VII. Interpretive Products

VIII. Credits

IX. References

X. Resources and Links


National Park Service  - Archeology and Ethnography Program  - Distance Learning

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