Front-End, Formative and Summative Evaluations of What’s in a Name?

November 30th, 2016 | EVALUATION

‘What’s in a Name’ is a collaboration between Harvard Museums of Science & Culture, the Encyclopedia of Life and the Biodiversity Heritage Library. Its goal was to addresses three significant issues: improving public understanding of life on Earth through resources on how scientists describe biodiversity; furthering public understanding of the scientific process, as exemplified by the study of biological species; and creating ways to enable access to the vast amount of data available from museums and libraries. The primary audiences were museum visitors and online users; the materials were also reviewed for use in the K-12 classroom. The project developed four exhibit stations at the Harvard Museum of Natural History, a project web site, and an e-book. Evaluation showed that these outputs increased people’s understanding of how scientists identify and name species and the importance of this process, as well as improved knowledge of the organisms and their relationships. The project’s results are sited within long-term freely available web resources, via the project web site, and EOL and BHL. The e-book is also available via Harvard University’s iTunes account.

Appendix includes observation & interview sheets.



Team Members

Jane Pickering, Principal Investigator, Harvard Museums of Science and Culture
Susan Sunbury, Evaluator, Harvard-Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory


Funding Source: IMLS
Funding Program: Museums for America
Award Number: MA-10-14-0113-14

Related URLs

What’s in a Name? Species, Naming, and the Scientific Process


Audience: Evaluators | General Public | Museum | ISE Professionals
Discipline: Ecology | forestry | agriculture | Life science
Resource Type: Evaluation Reports | Formative | Front-End | Interview Protocol | Observation Protocol | Research and Evaluation Instruments | Summative
Environment Type: Exhibitions | Museum and Science Center Exhibits