As an independent consultant for Early Learning in Museums, Dr. Shaffer works closely with museums and shares her belief in the power of objects and her passion for teaching art, history, and culture through art and artifacts. Her expertise is in blending theory and practice to support educators in understanding object-based methodologies, developing curriculum and other educational materials in partnership with museums and schools, and engaging educators in fostering critical thinking skills essential for twenty-first century learners. Her experience cuts across all types of museums, including work with children’s museums, and lends itself to an interdisciplinary approach to learning that bridges formal and informal learning environments.
Dr. Shaffer is an Instructor for Education at the Curry School, University of Virginia, a position that she has held for more than ten years, and writes professionally for the field, contributing articles to journals in the United States and abroad, including Chinese Museum. In spring 2012 she served as the guest editor for the Journal of Museum Education’s issue “Early Learning: A National Conversation.” Her first book, Engaging Young Children in Museums (2015), offers an historical and theoretical framework for early learning experiences in classrooms and museums, and has recently been translated into Chinese. Her newest book, Object Lessons and Early Learning (2018), explores the power of objects in learning, children’s curiosity about their world, and the natural affinity for collecting that begins in the early years.
Areas of Research / Professional Expertise