The Exploratorium's Explainer Program: Results from a Longitudinal Study
This report details the results of a five-year longitudinal study on the Explainer program at the Exploratorium. Explainers from the summer 1999, fall 1999 and spring 2000 cohorts were interviewed before and after their first semester of work as an Explainer, then followed up with additional interviews three more times at intervals of from one to three years. Additional supplemental data were gathered from a larger set of Explainers via surveys that were administered to these same cohorts before and after their first semester of work, and to a set of Explainer alumni who had been out of the program for periods of time that ranged between 3 and 35 years.
The study sought to find out how the Explainer program is viewed by its participants over time: when they speak of the program, what aspects do they mention; do they talk about these aspects positively or negatively; and are there any changes in perceptions of the program as Explainers move from youth into adulthood and on into their lives.
A second important goal was to discover whether former Explainers felt that the program had an impact on them in key aspects of their personal development, such as self-confidence and interpersonal skills, and if so, whether this impact was temporary or persisted over time.
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