A Participatory Model for Integrating Cognitive Research into Exhibits for Children: Summative Evaluation
A Participatory Model for Integrating Cognitive Research into Exhibits for Children was a model that the Museum of Science proposed to the National Science Foundation's Informal Science Education Program (NSF-ISE) in the Fall of 2006. The Model was to further develop, test, and refine an innovative program that engages adult visitors in a deeper understanding of how children learn and expand understanding of cognitive development. Researchers from cognitive and child development laboratories at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Harvard University, and Children's Hospital Boston, have been studying children and educating adult visitors in a Living Laboratory within the Discovery Center at the Museum. The focus of both the Formative and Summative evaluations were on investigating how Discovery Center educators could best achieve their goals for the Participatory Model for Integrating Cognitive Research into Exhibits for Children by shaping several strategies for interpreting the research conducted daily in the Discovery Center's Living Laboratory. The evaluation team investigated interpretation strategies that help adult visitors (i.e., caregivers 18 years and older) become interested in and better understand the science of cognitive research. The results of the Formative evaluation indicated that the interpretive strategies were stimulating interest in cognitive research. A critical question for the Summative evaluation was to identify and record adult behaviors and comments that demonstrate understanding of cognitive science whether adults understand the process of the research rather than whether they can recall or articulate particular findings (Formative Evaluation Report, September 2008, p. 47). The plan for the Summative evaluation was not only to evaluate if the interpretive strategies were meeting their goals and achieving their desired outcomes. We also hoped to build a knowledge base that could inform future Museum of Science products.