COVES Summative Evaluation Findings
The Collaboration for Ongoing Visitor Experience Studies (COVES) aims to help science centers gather and share data to better understand visitors’ experiences. For the summative evaluation of COVES, the Museum of Science’s Research and Evaluation Department studied the program’s impacts on participating museums and museum professionals. Specifically, this evaluation was designed to:
- Examine participants’ overall satisfaction with the collaboration and their likelihood to recommend it to others;
- Understand the impact that COVES is having on Participating Institutions;
- Assess whether or not COVES is accomplishing the fundamental principles set out in the C-COVES White Paper; and
- Gain feedback that will help the program in the future, especially in terms of understanding how to build community and why some organizations decided to stop participating.
This evaluation indicates that the COVES project has been successful at building and expanding a collaborative evaluation model intended to provide museums with visitor experience data. Across both the surveys and the interviews, participants rated their overall experience with COVES positively and reported being satisfied with some of the main aspects of the project including the trainings, the data dashboard, and the instruments. Survey participants, in particular, described how easy it was to conduct the visitor survey as well as valuing the analytical comparisons that could be made through the dashboard. When reflecting on the project’s accomplishments, survey participants strongly agreed that COVES had created a trustworthy system for gathering evaluation data that provided relevant information for their institutions and the larger field. Participants noted how COVES had helped inform a variety of decisions at their organizations and contributed to increased evaluation capacity. However, this study also points to areas where COVES may want to increase their future efforts related to communication and supporting key groups make use of the data.