Building Informal Science Education: Supporting Evaluation of Exhibitions and Programs with an Research Network

August 15th, 2010 - July 31st, 2015 | PROJECT

The project's goal is to facilitate the growth and use of the web site for posting reports of research and evaluation of Informal Science Education (ISE) funded projects. The project leaders will also synthesize the posted evaluation reports of informal science education research and development projects into readable documents. This synthesis will cover all available data from evaluation and research studies reported to across all sectors of ISE (e.g., museums, after school programs, video, radio, film, and technology). The investigators will provide the ISE community with information about these studies through publication on the site, through peer-reviewed publications for a research and evaluation audience, and through communications at conferences focused on ISE policy-makers and ISE practitioners. The report writing will be managed by a small staff of professional researchers and practitioners at the University of Pittsburgh, Minnesota Museum of Science, and Visitors Studies Association. The project will be continually evaluated by a board of advisors that will provide a yearly written report about the web site and synthesis work. The evaluators are researchers familiar with syntheses and meta analysis methods, experts from media, museum, and community programs, and also experts on development and use of professional development web sites. The evaluation will address whether or not the syntheses of evaluation reports was as rigorous as possible given the type of reports that are available. The usefulness of the reports and web site to the field of practice and research will also be a matter for concern by the advisory board. The long term aim of the project is to create a network that promotes deeper connections between evaluation and practice. Also, the network is expected to meet the needs and working styles of the various ISE sectors and to create exchanges and synergies among them. The site is expected to become more usable and useful to the field in each succeeding year, and it is expected to maximize its impact for practitioners, evaluators, policy makers, and funders.

Project Website(s)

(no project website provided)

Project Products

Poster: Building the Field of Informal Science Education Through the Synthesis of Evaluation Reports on
The Building Informal Science Education Project's Coding Framework
Building Informal Science Education (BISE) NVivo Database
How To Use the BISE NVivo Database
Excel File of BISE Report Level Codes
Folder of BISE Reports
Exploring the BISE Project's Resources Worksheet
BISE EndNote Library
BISE Citations to Import into Mendeley
Websites: A Guiding Framework for Focusing Website Evaluations
Museums & Social Issues Synthesis
A Review of Recommendations in Exhibition Summative Evaluation Reports
Introducing The Building Informal Science Education Blog Series
Building Informal Science Education: Context And Synthesis
Digging Into The BISE Coding Framework
What Can You Find In The BISE Database?
Measuring Behavioral Outcomes Using Follow-Up Methods
Building A Guiding Framework For Website Evaluation Design Using The BISE Database
Evaluation Of Media Projects: An Analysis Of Reports Contributed To InformalScience.Org
Where’s The “M” In STEM When It Comes To Social Issues?
Reporting with an Evaluator Audience in Mind: A BISE Synthesis Paper

Team Members

Kevin Crowley, Principal Investigator, University of Pittsburgh
Marti Louw, Co-Principal Investigator, University of Pittsburgh
Amy Grack Nelson, Evaluator, Science Museum of Minnesota
Karen Knutson, Co-Principal Investigator, University of Pittsburgh
Kirsten Ellenbogen, Co-Principal Investigator, Great Lakes Science Center


Funding Source: NSF
Funding Program: ISE/AISL
Award Number: 1010924
Funding Amount: 909311


Audience: Evaluators | Museum | ISE Professionals
Discipline: Education and learning science | General STEM
Resource Type: Project Descriptions
Environment Type: Media and Technology | Professional Development | Conferences | Networks | Resource Centers and Networks | Websites | Mobile Apps | Online Media