National Living Laboratory: Creating Communities of Learners for Informal Cognitive Science Education [Summative Evaluation Report]
This summative evaluation report details the Broad Implementation of the Living Laboratory model--an initiative to promote partnership between museums and cognitive science researchers in order to promote professional learning and involve the public in scientific research. The evaluation investigated the extent of the dissemination effort’s depth, spread, sustainability, and shift in ownership, based on Coburn’s criteria for scale-up (2003). Evaluators collected data from surveys, interviews, focus groups, document review, and observations. Findings about depth suggest that adopters fully implement or modify all model elements, and that project leadership continuously adapted to community needs and promoted local ownership. Professional interactions and online resources have facilitated the model’s robust spread. Diversified funding structures and adaptations to the model are important for sites to develop sustainable partnerships; in contrast, financial need and staff turnover can challenge sustainability at the local level. In general, sites negotiate ownership by balancing responsibilities evenly between researchers and museum partners. Recommendations for future project work include continued promotion of networking, collaboration, diverse funding, clear branding, multi-person staffing structures, and new applications of the model. Future studies could investigate longitudinal impacts, researcher communication skills, and connections to other informal science education networks.