Palo Alto Convening on Assessment in Informal Settings (2013)

Post-Convening Summary
Convening Synthesis Report

In December 2013, a group of leaders of six informal science education (ISE) assessment projects met in Palo Alto, CA for a 2-day exploration of the state of the art of measuring the impact of informal STEM education experiences. The goals for the meeting were to explore in depth the technical and practical details of the assessments, share and critique findings, and review plans for ongoing work to validate and refine measures.  The need for the meeting evolved from discussions at two larger gatherings on evaluation and assessment in informal science education. One was a previous convening that the Center for Advancement of Informal Science Education (CAISE) hosted on building capacity in evaluation for the field of ISE. Prior to that meeting a gathering was convened by the National Research Council and the Program in Education Afterschool and Resiliency (PEAR) at Harvard to discuss assessment procedures in informal science.

At the CAISE convening, in addition to the researchers from the six assessment projects, a group of “critical friends” who were informal science researchers, evaluators, former NSF AISL program officers, and leading practitioners also attended. As assessments were presented and common issues discussed, they provided critique, feedback, and diverse perspectives from the broader field of informal STEM education. Common measures emerged as the most urgent of the topics as the projects in attendance realized that (1) they were working on an overlapping set of constructs and (2) the tools and measures they were developing, as well as related products, would benefit from some collective examination and comparison. 

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