Sustainability: Promoting Sustainable Decision Making in Informal Education, Events Summative Evaluation

September 1st, 2009 | EVALUATION

Overview of Sustainability
Events and Evaluation: As part of the National Science Foundation funded Sustainability: Promoting Sustainable Decision Making in Informal Education project, the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI) project team designed and hosted seven events between September 2011 and July 2014. In line with the overall project goals: Participants will 1) capture the big idea, “We can cultivate a more sustainable community by building skills and making decisions that maximize positive impacts,” 2) practice skills necessary for making more sustainable choices that consider environmental, social, and economic impacts, and 3) demonstrate emergent outcomes not anticipated at this time. OMSI targeted a diverse audience through English/ Spanish bilingual events on reduced entry days. Topics addressed sustainability-related decisions relevant to families. The evaluation assessed how successfully the sustainability events 1) achieved the project goal of engaging families with activities that allow them to learn and practice skills that support sustainable decision making and 2) attracted new visitors to the museum who might not otherwise engage with Informal Science Education (ISE). The method was a group interview / debrief with the project team. The Sustainability project duration was September 2009–April 2015. Portland State University, in collaboration with OMSI, supported many phases of evaluation during the project and led all summative evaluation activities.

Findings: Overall the events achieved varying degrees of success with the best outcomes in the areas of partner or community collaboration, recruitment of bilingual volunteers, and improvement of outreach strategies. Events demonstrated the big idea and communicated the project’s message about sustainable choices. The focus on recruitment of bilingual volunteers to help plan and facilitate event activities was successful, yet more formal evaluation and marketing would have been helpful. Resources and other factors were formally assessed through evaluation of the first event to help address important factors such as context, relevance, and outreach strategy for future events. Compromises between project ideas and museum needs led to some challenges. Some events were more successful than others in terms of attendance numbers and project goals. Based on early experience, the team identified strategies to increase the success of subsequent events. Team members mentioned that better promotion and formal evaluation would have helped to market and conduct effective events with more participants. Defining and strategizing for a target audience was essential. Event organizers made an effort to use minimal and repurposed resources, consistent project goals. To attract participants, serve Hispanic families, and reinforce skills for sustainable decision making, event organizers at OMSI and other institutions can learn from the following recommendations: 1. Plan carefully to maximize personnel and physical resources. 2. Focus on linguistic (Spanish) accessibility. Include highly engaging activities. 3. Create clear, easily disseminated promotion materials.

Includes interview protocol.



Team Members

Oregon Museum of Science and Industry, Contributor
Renee B. Curtis, Co-Principal Investigator, Portland State University


Funding Source: NSF
Funding Program: ISE/AISL
Funding Amount: 2304377

Related URLs

Sustainability: Promoting Sustainable Decision Making in Informal Education


Access and Inclusion: English Language Learners | Ethnic | Racial | Hispanic | Latinx Communities
Audience: Adults | Evaluators | Families | Middle School Children (11-13) | Museum | ISE Professionals | Parents | Caregivers | Youth | Teen (up to 17)
Discipline: Ecology | forestry | agriculture | Education and learning science
Resource Type: Evaluation Reports | Interview Protocol | Research and Evaluation Instruments
Environment Type: Community Outreach Programs | Exhibitions | Museum and Science Center Exhibits | Museum and Science Center Programs | Public Events and Festivals | Public Programs