The Cosmic Serpent Story: Summative Evaluation for Final Report

November 1st, 2012 | EVALUATION

Cosmic Serpent (NSF No. DRL-0714631 and DRL-0714629) is a professional development effort that supports collaboration with integrity between science museum professionals and Native communities and/or tribal museums. Cosmic Serpent aims to create awareness of the value and integrity of Native science paradigms among museum practitioners, support them in connecting Native worldviews to Western science learning; and nurture sustainable collaborations between science museums and Native communities around featuring multiple worldviews of science in informal settings. The primary component of the project was a series of intensive workshops, including an initial 5-day workshop in each of the three geographic regions of focus Northwest, Southwest, and California/Hawai'i followed by a 3-day follow-up workshop in each region one year later. Other deliverables included a 3-day Culminating Conference attended by participants representing all three regions, and a legacy document that shares project outcomes and lessons learned with the broader field. The Institute for Learning Innovation (ILI), a nonprofit research and evaluation organization focused on learning in informal contexts, and Native Pathways (NaPs), an educational consulting firm specializing in Indigenous evaluation, worked collaboratively to support a joint evaluation effort of the Cosmic Serpent project. All aspects of front-end, formative, and summative evaluation were conducted collaboratively between the two teams, including instrument development, data collection, analysis, interpretation, and writing. Project Outcomes Project development and evaluation were guided by the Dine (Navajo) Model (Maryboy and Begay, 2007), a strategic planning model based on the four cardinal directions. : 1) East Ha'a'aah, a place of initiation; 2) South Shadiah, a place of growth and organization; 3) West Ii'ii'aah, a place of activation; and 4) North Nahookos, a place of transformation, renewal, and evaluation leading to sustainability. In keeping with Native worldviews that honor story and holistic processes, the evaluation followed an emergent and organic process, rather than seeking predetermined outcomes. Following is an overview of project outcomes based on the four directions. In the East (Ha'a'aah), a place of initiation, project participants (Fellows) and team members (leadership and evaluation) deepened their awareness of worldviews, began building relationships to support the Cosmic Serpent efforts, broadened their understanding of the project's aims, and experienced new learning, mainly in the areas of Native ways of knowing. The leadership and evaluation team also gained awareness that several of the initial project goals would need a longer time frame to accomplish in a genuine and authentic way. Particularly, they realized that more time was needed to immerse all three teams in environments that supported relationship building, which could then form a foundation for creating collaborative programming in a sustainable way. In the South (Shadiah), a place of growth and organization, team reflection and evaluation identified a critical need to spend more time in this direction, focused on relationship building in particular. The Leadership team recognized that most Fellows were not yet ready to activate the collaborative work or to create products, but needed more time to build trust and deepen relationships. In response, they focused on creating environments where open and honest dialogue could be shared around the two worldviews. Findings from the workshops showed that Fellows made connections with collaborating partners, developed ideas for collaborative work, became more reflective practitioners, deepened their understanding of relationship from a Native worldview, and began infusing their work with more attention to Native voice and diverse worldviews. In the West (Ii'ii'aah), a place of activation, outcomes centered on continued growth in knowledge, understanding, and awareness around relationship building and worldviews. For Fellows, activation included generating new ideas, enhancing programs, deepening relationships, developing grants, creating advisory positions, and creating docent/staff training around inclusion of multiple worldviews. Fellows also encountered a number of challenges in the area of activation, including funding limitations and lack of institutional buy-in to support their work. The leadership and evaluation teams also deepened their engagement of partnership, particularly engaging diverse perspectives, understanding collaboration, and becoming more aware of one's own roles, strengths and weaknesses. In the North (Nahookos), a place of transformation, renewal, and evaluation leading to sustainability, the project focuses on lessons learned and future pathways. Future collaborations need to be considerate of the time and space needed for creating relationship, purposefully constructed into the program environment. Another area of learning was that all project activities need to be considerate of balance of voice, creating environments where all voices are heard, shared and experienced. With this said, sometimes there may need to be more time spent on orienting the audience to Indigenous worldviews. Consideration of where the participants are in terms of knowledge levels is recommended. At the funding agency level, the considerations of the amount of time needed to activate sustainable cross-cultural collaborations needs to be considered in terms of funding timelines, budgets, and evaluative frameworks (e.g. intended impacts).



Team Members

Jill Stein, Evaluator, Institute for Learning Innovation
Indigenous Education Institute, Contributor
Shelly Valdez, Evaluator, Native Pathways
Eric Jones, Evaluator, Institute for Learning Innovation


Funding Source: NSF
Funding Program: AISL
Award Number: 0714631
Funding Amount: 1643862

Funding Source: NSF
Funding Program: ISE/AISL
Award Number: 0714629
Funding Amount: 550997

Related URLs
Collaborative Research: Cosmic Serpent - Bridging Native and Western Science Learning in Informal Settings (714629)
Collaborative Research: Cosmic Serpent - Bridging Native and Western Science Learning in Informal Settings (714631)


Access and Inclusion: Indigenous and Tribal Communities
Audience: Evaluators | Museum | ISE Professionals
Discipline: Education and learning science | General STEM | Nature of science | Social science and psychology
Resource Type: Evaluation Reports | Summative
Environment Type: Professional Development | Conferences | Networks | Professional Development and Workshops