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evaluation
My life as a museum evaluator preceded my life as a parent, and over the past 15 plus years, I have learned a great deal about child development, family learning, and parent-child interactions in informal learning settings.  I know what I know from academia (Piaget and Vygotsky), from classic studies on family learning, and from...
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One of the amazing benefits of working as an evaluator with a variety of institutions is the opportunity for personal learning.  Having an art-history background, I find myself learning the most when I’m placed in non-art environments—reading about fault lines and earthquakes at the California Academy of Science, or getting my hands dirty while exploring...
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I am no stranger to nature.  I went to summer camp as a kid and I took a wilderness survival class in high school (although, in the interest of full disclosure, I got mono and never took the outdoor final exam).  While living in Seattle, I climbed Mt. Si, and accidentally snow-shoed up a ski...
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Two weeks ago, I attended the Learning Value of Children’s Museums Research Agenda Symposium.  When I received an email from the project evaluator asking me about what most resonated from the first day of the symposium, I found that my most immediate thoughts had nothing to do with children’s museums, despite the many interesting conversations...
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In July, we moved our office.  Even though we were just moving across the street, moving is moving.  Books, articles, reports, journals, files (I’m not paperless as much as I try), drawer contents—everything needed to be boxed and labeled.  Intentionally, I had accumulated articles that filled two large file drawers—all the ones I collected in...
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In June, The Association of Science and Technology Centers (ASTC) invited professionals to respond to these questions for an upcoming issue of Dimensions magazine: When are evaluation and other visitor feedback strategies the most useful for helping advance a science center’s mission?  When are such strategies less successful?  We pondered this at a staff meeting...
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This week I’d like to share thoughts about evaluative thinking, in part because two weeks ago I was part of a session at the American Alliance of Museums (AAM) annual conference in Baltimore titled “Evaluation as Learning” (titled as such because learning is the ultimate result of evaluative thinking).  We took a risk:  I set...
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A few months ago, Geraldine Kendall presented preliminary findings of the British research project Evaluating Evaluation in her article “Critical Thinking Not Used.” The research explored the impact of summative evaluations on the workings of British museums, and preliminary findings highlight a few barriers to maximizing the impact of summative evaluations.  While we’re all aware...
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A few weeks ago, Randi blogged about the lack of emphasis grantors place on professional learning as a valuable outcome of projects they have funded.  The fear of failure I sense from practitioners when planning an evaluation is often palpable, as practitioners often think about evaluation as a judgment tool and fear the possibility of...
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It’s that time of year—federal grant deadlines for NSF, IMLS, NOAA, NEH, and NEA are looming large, and many informal learning organizations are  eyeing those federal dollars.  While government agencies (and private foundations) often require evaluation, we relish working on projects with team members that integrate evaluation into their work process because they are interested...
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