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Evaluation Design
Recently, I was invited to speak about quantitative data for The George Washington University’s course, Evaluating Museum Learning.  My task was not to teach students how to conduct quantitative analysis, but rather, to help students become knowledgeable interpreters of quantitative data—whether encountered in their future museum work or the daily newspaper.  Based on my experience ...
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Happy new year! We are back with another post in the Evaluation Design Series on the topic of pilot-testing data collection instruments, particularly for open-ended interview guides or standardized surveys.  In short, pilot-testing (also called pre-testing) is administering an instrument a few times prior to data collection.  This includes all parts of the instrument, from...
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This spring, RK&A undertook an ambitious project with the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History (NMNH) to conduct a meta-analysis of reports from the last 10 years of evaluation completed for the museum.  In this context, “meta-analysis” essentially means reanalyzing past analyses with the goal of identifying larger trends or gaps in research.  This project...
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Interviews are a commonly used data collection method in qualitative studies, where the goal is to understand or explore a phenomenon.  They’re an extremely effective way to gather rich, descriptive data about people’s experiences in a program or exhibition, which is one reason we use them often in our work at RK&A.  Figuring out sample...
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Sampling is a very important consideration for all types of data collection.  For audience research and summative evaluations in particular, it is important that the sample from which data is collected represents the actual population.  That is, the visitors who participate in a questionnaire or interview should match the entire population of visitors.  For instance,...
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Sample size is a standard question we are asked, particularly for questionnaires since we will be using statistical analyses. For most audience research projects, we recommend collecting 400 questionnaires.  We are not alone in this general rule of thumb—400 is considered by some researchers (and market researchers in particular) to be the “magic number” in...
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There is a reason behind every methodological decision we make as evaluators. While we give great thought to our evaluation design, our thinking is not always transparent.   We have decided to pull the curtain back on our thinking in a new blog series that we are calling “Evaluation Design: A Peek Behind the Scenes.” Our...
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When evaluators are called in to evaluate a program, exhibition, or museum, the first question they ask is, “Who is your primary audience?”  After fully addressing the “who” question, the next question is usually, “What are you hoping to achieve among [insert primary audience]?”  This question is code for “What are your intended outcomes?”  While...
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Data visualization is a very hot topic in the research and evaluation world right now. As a student of art history and art education, visual communication is something I believe in whole-heartedly and, like many evaluators, have been honing my skills in visual presentation. In reading about data viz, the tip “keep it simple” is...
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As a staff, we have noticed the slow by steady upswing in the number of museums doing and requesting evaluation over the years.  While evaluation was uncommon in the museum world 15 or 20 years ago, today many, many museum professionals are enthusiastic advocates for evaluation and view it as essential to their work.  Ultimately,...
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