Labs in Life Summative Evaluation

July 20th, 2011 | EVALUATION

In 2008, COSI received funding from the Institute of Museum and Library Services to develop the exhibit Labs in Life (LG-26-08-0146). The development of the Labs in Life embodies a unique model for collaboration, with active researchers interested in research outcomes while simultaneously serving as models for the public, and science center staff concurrently gleaning new and changing content for exhibits and programs. While each partner is motivated by many different goals, all agree that they are interested in stimulating public interest in and understanding of science and technology, encouraging young people to consider careers in the sciences and supporting adults to become more scientifically literate. In fulfillment of the funding requirements, COSI partnered with the Institute for Learning Innovation to conduct the summative evaluation of Labs in Life. Because sustainable and successful operation of the OSU lab and the related COSI programs and exhibits are dependent on the fulfillment of the expectations of the participants from both organizations, the evaluation plan focused on examining factors related to the visible science activity: specifically, proximity to the ‚Äúreal researcher‚ÄĚ doing ‚Äúreal science‚ÄĚ and level of engagement in the research as a subject or comparing self to subjects. From internal COSI documents on Labs in Life, the space was designed for research on the science learning in the space as well as the research going on in the labs: ‚ÄúThere are two avenues of pursuit for this research, evaluation of the types of activities constructed for visitor engagement in the context of a specific project in which laboratory research is showcased and a study of the proximity and level of engagement and their impact on perceived engagement, knowledge, attitude, and skills, ultimately leading toward the behavioral outcomes for COSI across ages and stages of visitors‚ÄĚ (COSI, 2008). This summative evaluation of Labs in Life will focus on two questions that 1) address the original concepts for the Labs, and 2) emerged from the remedial evaluations conducted by the COSI internal evaluator, Rita Deedrick, Senior Director, Research & Evaluation at COSI. Given the findings in the remedial and the goal of the project, the evaluation team has determined that the driving outcome messages relate to evaluation of the activities constructed for engagement in the context of a project. The two target audiences as identified in the proposal are 1) families with children ages 8-12, and 2) middle-school aged youth.



Team Members

Institute for Learning Innovation, Contributor
Joe E Heimlich, Evaluator, Institute for Learning Innovation


Funding Source: IMLS


Audience: Adults | Evaluators | Families | General Public | Middle School Children (11-13) | Museum | ISE Professionals | Youth | Teen (up to 17)
Discipline: General STEM | Life science
Resource Type: Evaluation Reports | Summative
Environment Type: Exhibitions | Museum and Science Center Exhibits