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Successful Techniques for Assessing Informal Education Programs. NMEA 2009 Pat Pokay Eastern Michigan University ppokay@emich.edu. A Few Questions First…. Why are you here? Write 3 things you already know about assessment. A Few More Questions…. How often do you assess your programs? 1-5

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Successful Techniques for Assessing Informal Education Programs


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    1. Successful Techniques for Assessing Informal Education Programs NMEA 2009 Pat Pokay Eastern Michigan University ppokay@emich.edu

    2. A Few Questions First… • Why are you here? • Write 3 things you already know about assessment.

    3. A Few More Questions… How often do you assess your programs? 1-5 What % of your programs do you assess? 1-5 Which is the most true of your ed dept? • A) We don’t assess • B) We assess only informally, when developing the program - not when implemented • C) We assess every program, every session but don’t get to analyzing the data often • D) We assess and analyze almost all of our programs.

    4. NSF Domains for Informal Science • Engagement and Interest • Attitude • Behavior • Awareness, Knowledge, Understanding • Skills

    5. Approximately thirty science center educators were asked to brainstorm their answers to a series of assessment questions.

    6. Questions Asked • What types of outcomes are you concerned about? • What other information do you want from participants? • What roadblocks and difficulties do you run into when trying to assess programs? • What techniques have been successful in helping you carry out assessments?

    7. What are your outcomes ? • For participants: • Attitude and interest • curiosity; appreciation of environment • Action and behavioral change • Use in classrooms; networking • Increased stewardship; career paths • Knowledge

    8. What are your outcomes ? • For program: • Build credibility; encourage repeaters • Increase memberships and donors; increase exposure of program • Data to enhance/expand programs and stimulate new programs • Quantifiable outcomes for future funding

    9. What other information do you want from participants? • Baseline information • Demographics; knowledge; attitudes • Program choice • Why this one; other program interest; recommend to others; future needs; how do we compare? • How do they use the program info?

    10. Roadblocks • Assessment knowledge of staff • Conceptual knowledge • Tool design • Data analysis • Assessment implementation issues • Sampling and participants issues • Capturing participant feedback and observations • Need for time to assess within program • Accountability and Cost • Costs of assessment • Expectations of funders • Federal rules (IRB)

    11. Successful Techniques • Process • Timing issues (adequate time; embed in program; setting aside specific time for it) • Clarify value, directions, examples to participants • Staff • Time for reflection, interaction following evaluation • Rewards and money • Participant stipends for completion

    12. Key Ideas • Develop assessment that has more than one use • Embed assessments in program if possible • Example of KWL • Develop follow-up contact list with timetable for contacting participants • Use in classrooms • Networking

    13. Zebra Mussels in the Great Lakes

    14. Lesson on Zebra Mussels“What do you know?”

    15. Zebra MusselsAnalysis of Learning * No answer or one simple fact ** Simple, true statements, no interconnections among concepts *** Interconnected, complex statements about concepts in the lesson

    16. Zebra Mussels“What do you want to know?” Some student comments:

    17. Zebra Mussels“What do you want to know?”Analysis suggests: • May need introduction about the basics of zebra mussel ‘life’ in this program.

    18. In Sum… • Embedding assessment in lesson provides • Simple pre-post information • Student interest information for future programming It might be an option for assessing when time and resources are limited.