Observable Elements of Success – Interpretive Foundational Competencies (2017)

The “Newbrics” of Success

The following draft elements of success were created by the Interpretation And Education Peer Feedback Community in September 2016 to accompany the FY-2017 Foundational Interpretive Competencies. These are working elements of success – just as the Foundational competencies are changing with culture and audiences annually, so too will the elements of interpretive success.

Observable Elements:

Evolving Interpretive Theory

The interpretive experience…

  • Exhibits the threefold goals of interpretation, addressing the audience’s interests, the organization’s preservation mission, the broader needs/issues of society and cultivating shared stewardship
  • Provokes, creates, facilitates, or supports opportunities for audiences to make their own intellectual and emotional connections to resource meanings and current contexts using the tenets of interpretation
  • Incorporates audience-centered techniques and content in interactive and engaging ways that help audiences explore relevant ideas and essential questions tied to the resource

Knowledge of Self

The interpreter…

  • Intentionally investigates audience, organizational, and personal biases to increase awareness and acknowledgment of multiple perspectives
  • Demonstrates willingness to change perspective(s)
  • Creates space for multiple perspectives to engage by adapting to diverse needs

Knowledge of Audience and Community

The interpretive experience…

  • Invites and engages in collaborative and generative learning of the evolving meanings of park resources, with and among audiences
  • Respects the values and cultural practices of diverse practices by meeting audiences “where they are” both in planning and in practice
  • Cultivates a safe and accepting safe/tone for multiple perspectives and truths to be held, experienced, and integrated

Knowledge of Site Resources and Current Context

The interpretive experience…

  • Incorporates the latest scholarship and knowledge from a variety of disciplines, audiences, and sources
  • Continuously explores the depth and breadth of evolving meanings and current social context
  • Explores and integrates the four truths by incorporating forensic information,and social, personal and/or reconciliatory meanings of site resources

Relevant Ideas and Essential Questions

The interpretive experience…

  • Uses the site’s resources to intentionally explore and investigate questions essential to today’s culture and society
  • Offers opportunities for audiences to investigate personal roles, responsibilities and proactive responses to the broader needs/issues of society
  • Exhibits a purposeful focus and cohesive structure or design that can be tailored, whenever possible, to audience interests and input
  • Demonstrates flexibility, allowing audiences to cooperatively shape their experience through contribution of content and meanings

Integrating Engagement Techniques

The interpretive experience…

  • Uses a variety of interactive techniques and facilitation strategies which help speak to a broad range of learning preferences and engagement styles
  • Balances the amount of “presentation” and “listening” time intentionally to facilitate visitor engagement
  • Adapts and employs different modes of communication in response to evolving audience input, reaction and self-expression
  • Integrates techniques to help the audience engage with the resource to explore its broader implications in their lives

Planning Effective Experiences

The plan for the interpretive experience…

  • Demonstrates thoughtful integration into the site’s overall programming strategy and addresses the three-fold goals of interpretation
  • Incorporates a flexible structure and focus for the product that allows for audience contribution and co-creation
  • Demonstrates that diverse perspectives have been considered and incorporated
  • Incorporates design elements and interpretive techniques that are appropriate for the presentation method or product type
  • Exhibits knowledgeable and purposeful incorporation of audience-centered interpretive elements
  • Proactively addresses accessibility, safety and logistical needs
  • Incorporates a strategy for iterative collaborative assessment and feedback

Implementing Effective Experiences

During presentation or implementation, the interpreter…

  • Monitors and adjusts for accessibility, safety, logistical, and resource protection needs
  • Demonstrates verbal and non-verbal communication skills that are appropriate for the audience and the interpretive medium
  • Demonstrates facilitation strategies and skills to manage group process, encourage collaboration, invite contribution, and manage conflict
  • Provides interpretive focus but demonstrates flexibility and adaptability to allow audience co-creation of meaning and experience
  • Demonstrates adherence to NPS standards for design, accessibility and interpretive effectiveness
  • Invites and acknowledges audience feedback, as appropriate for the program or product type


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