Strategies for evaluating informal science education: Identifying and measuring meaningful indicators of program effectiveness for a mobile laboratory program
MobiLLab is a mobile science education program designed to awaken young people’s interest in science and technology (S&T). To guide program development, mobiLLab leaders sought to identify and assess meaningful indicators of program effectiveness. Through an exploratory background investigation, we identified the following indicators: participant satisfaction; usefulness of classroom preparation materials; and pupils’ outcomes (S&T interest, attitude and self-concept). Results of a mixed-methods pilot investigation indicated that pupils and teachers are satisfied with their mobiLLab experiences and elicited teacher suggestions for specific program improvements. Pupils’ outcomes changed slightly or not at all from before to after the visit. Investigation results indicated that factors that influence these outcomes are classroom preparation time and pupils’ comfort interacting with technology. This two-step investigation offers a model for evaluating the effectiveness of informal science education programs.