Designed for museum educators and informal science education professionals without formal training in evaluation, this guide explains team-based inquiry (TBI) and how it can be used as a tool for developing or improving educational experiences in museums such as programs and exhibits. TBI consists of a continuous cycle with four main phases: question, investigate, reflect, […]
Check out the articles below for a nitty-gritty look at the different phases of evaluation. Included are some great tips for implementing evaluative practices at your own institution.
This article describes “a range of front-end research studies intended to develop more specific knowledge concerning parent beliefs about how and what their children might learn from a museum visit, and how parents might be involved in that learning…the team then developed and user-tested prototype signage for the new exhibit spaces.” Swatz, Mallary I. and […]
Sue Allen discusses how the diversity of experiences at the Exploratorium gave her an opportunity to “make comparisons among the kinds of learning experiences visitors have with different types of exhibit elements.” Allen also includes her advice on various methods of data gathering and analysis for exhibit evaluators.
Project Explore, a collaboration between Philadelphia’s Please Touch Museum and Harvard University’s Project Zero, describes their evaluation process and experience in trying to determine if “children [are] really learning in children’s museums or are they simply being entertained? If children are learning, what is it that they are learning? What engages and enhances children in the […]
Marianna Adams of Audience Focus Inc., reflects on some of the problems with traditional evaluation and suggests more imaginative options. Surveys and written questionnaires are the most common but not always the best instrument for capturing the nuances of the visitor experience. Surveys can interrupt the experience for visitors, so Adams walks us through some […]
Evaluating a new exhibit is not a process that can be planned from start to finish. It takes improvisation, adjustment, collaboration and a willingness to abandon methods that are simply not working.
The USS Constitution Museum invites you to explore family learning and assess where your institution is along the 10 Steps!
Minda Borun discusses why it’s so important to get to know your audience and allow their interests to inform your exhibits and programs. Remember the Visitor’s Perspective By Minda Borun The Franklin Institute and Museum Solutions Visitors come to the museum with all levels of knowledge and preconceived ideas. Some ideas are developmental; they are […]
People often respond to an exhibit in ways that are difficult to predict. Testing the exhibit with visitors is vital in making the relationship between visitor and exhibit as effective as possible. An example of the value of front-end study at the USS Constitution Museum shows the value of understanding visitor preferences. Why Listen to […]
Minda Borun explains the evaluation process from designing a study and collecting and analyzing data, to writing the report. A professional evaluator is important to have on hand for the whole evaluation process, especially for designing the study and for data analysis. Borun explains the different types of evaluation including front-end, formative, remedial, and summative. […]
So you’ve decided you want to conduct a visitor survey. Now what? It all depends on what kind of information you want to collect.
Observing families for a simple tracking and timing evaluation study is easy, informative, and objective. It requires minimal training so everyone from frontline staff to your board president can participate. All you need is a clipboard, a floorplan of your exhibition, and a watch.
Are exhibits and programs every really finished? There is often room for major improvements after the opening. Summative Evaluation is conducted when your audience can experience the total “package.” It often reveals problems that were not, or could not be, identified during the earlier stages of development.
Formative evaluation is conducted when you have something to show your audience.
Front-end evaluation is conducted during the beginning of a project, when you are developing an exhibit’s or program’s themes and content. It concentrates on getting input from your potential audience to find out what they know, what would like to know, and how this information could be presented in meaningful ways.