Building Informal Science Education: Supporting Evaluation of Exhibitions and Programs with an Research Network

Sunday, August 15, 2010 to Friday, July 31, 2015
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Project Descriptions
Environment Type: 
Media and Technology, Websites, Mobile Apps, and Online Media, Professional Development, Conferences, and Networks, Resource Centers and Networks
Museum/ISE Professionals | Evaluators
Education and learning science | General STEM
University of Pittsburgh, Science Museum of Minnesota, Great Lakes Science Center

The project's goal is to facilitate the growth and use of the web site for posting reports of research and evaluation of Informal Science Education (ISE) funded projects. The project leaders will also synthesize the posted evaluation reports of informal science education research and development projects into readable documents. This synthesis will cover all available data from evaluation and research studies reported to across all sectors of ISE (e.g., museums, after school programs, video, radio, film, and technology). The investigators will provide the ISE community with information about these studies through publication on the site, through peer-reviewed publications for a research and evaluation audience, and through communications at conferences focused on ISE policy-makers and ISE practitioners. The report writing will be managed by a small staff of professional researchers and practitioners at the University of Pittsburgh, Minnesota Museum of Science, and Visitors Studies Association. The project will be continually evaluated by a board of advisors that will provide a yearly written report about the web site and synthesis work. The evaluators are researchers familiar with syntheses and meta analysis methods, experts from media, museum, and community programs, and also experts on development and use of professional development web sites. The evaluation will address whether or not the syntheses of evaluation reports was as rigorous as possible given the type of reports that are available. The usefulness of the reports and web site to the field of practice and research will also be a matter for concern by the advisory board. The long term aim of the project is to create a network that promotes deeper connections between evaluation and practice. Also, the network is expected to meet the needs and working styles of the various ISE sectors and to create exchanges and synergies among them. The site is expected to become more usable and useful to the field in each succeeding year, and it is expected to maximize its impact for practitioners, evaluators, policy makers, and funders.

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Team Members

Kevin CrowleyPrincipal Investigator
Marti LouwCo-Principal Investigator
Amy Grack NelsonEvaluator
Karen KnutsonKaren KnutsonCo-Principal Investigator
Kirsten EllenbogenCo-Principal Investigator

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