Stephanie Downey

Owner & Director


Stephanie brings more than two decades of research and evaluation experience to her position as owner and director of RK&A.  She takes pleasure in working closely with museums and other informal learning organizations to help them make a difference in the lives of their audiences.  Stephanie has undergraduate and graduate degrees in anthropology and ultimately is driven by her lifelong interest in how humans behave and make meaning.  Prior to joining RK&A in 1999, she conducted educational research and program evaluation in public schools.  Stephanie serves as treasurer on the board of the Museum Education Roundtable, frequently presents at professional association conferences like the American Alliance of Museums and the National Art Education Association, and regularly peer reviews manuscripts for the Journal of Museum Education and Curator.  When not working, you can find Stephanie in the kitchen trying new recipes, cheering on her children in their various activities, and hiking trails along the Hudson River.

Stephanie Downey

Published Works, Select Articles By Stephanie Downey

“All Together Now: Using Cross-Departmental Collaboration to Articulate, Achieve, and Measure Impact at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences.”

In Informal Learning Review. May/June 2019.

By Stephanie Downey, Randi Korn, and Katie Chandler

This article candidly details the struggles and successes experienced by staff at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences (NCMNS) Nature Research Center (NRC) as they came together from across the museum to collaboratively articulate and evaluate the intended impact of NRC exhibition experiences on visitors. 

Full Article


“An Impact-Driven Approach to Evaluating Citizen Science Programs for Youth”
In Enhancing STEM Motivation through Citizen Science Programs, 2019.
Suzanne E. Hiller, PhD, and Anastasia Kitsantas 

Stephanie Downey and Emily Skidmore’s book chapter details the “who,” “what,” “how,” and “why” of evaluating citizen science programs for youth.  Follow this link  below to see the book on the publisher’s website. 

Book Listing


“The Parental Role in Children’s Museums: Perceptions, Attitudes, and Behaviors.”
Museums & Social Issues, 2010.
By Stephanie Downey, Amanda Krantz, and Emily Skidmore

This article presents the results of audience research at a children’s museum in Philadelphia.  The research focuses on understanding the parental role in a children’s museum experience.  In particular, it identifies and explains three barriers to full parental participation.

Full Article


“Measuring the Impact of Museum-School Programs: Findings and Implications for Practice.” 
Journal of Museum Education, 2007.
By Stephanie Downey, Johanna Jones, and Jackie Delamatre

Drawing on findings from research that examined a long-standing program at the Guggenheim Museum, this article identifies characteristics of a museum-school program that contribute to increased critical-thinking skills in elementary-aged students.

Full Article


“Visitor-Centered Exhibition Development.”
Exhibitionist, 2002.
By Stephanie Downey

This article describes the various phases of evaluation in the context of exhibition development. Newcomers to the field as well as exhibition developers and designers may find it instructional.

Full Article