From Common Measures to Measures in Common: A Convening to Enhance Measurement of Outcomes of Afterschool STEM Programs

August 15th, 2018 - July 31st, 2020 | PROJECT

Over the last decade there has been significant growth in the number of afterschool programs that offer science activities to youth. Measuring the quality and contributions of these programs to youth learning is important to both the afterschool organizations and the communities that support them, including participating youth and their families. To address the range and evolving interests and capacities of all young people within a community, there are, by necessity, a wide range of types of afterschool science programming. Such programming may vary by focus (e.g., botany, astronomy, computer science, engineering, or zoology), structure (e.g., hands-on, place-based, on-line, or in partnership with local industry) and other factors. Across the range of programming, there are different intended learning goals and opportunities for students. For these reasons, a range of measurement tools are needed to monitor the quality and outcomes of wide range of afterschool science programs. To explore the current state of evaluation and measurement tools for use in afterschool science programs, the University of Washington, in partnership with the Afterschool Alliance and the National Girls Collaborative, will design and host a conference for afterschool STEM leaders, researchers, and evaluators. This project is funded by the Advancing Informal STEM Learning (AISL) program, which seeks to advance new approaches to, and evidence-based understanding of, the design and development of STEM learning in informal environments. This includes providing multiple pathways for broadening access to and engagement in STEM learning experiences, advancing innovative research on and assessment of STEM learning in informal environments, and developing understandings of deeper learning by participants.

This conference is grounded in the programmatic priorities and strategies of afterschool organizations. The goals of the conference are to (a) articulate and map the range of intended outcomes of afterschool STEM programs; (b) identify how existing measurement and evaluation tools map on to intended outcomes; and (c) identify overlaps, complementarities, and gaps in the available tools in order to provide guidance to (i) practitioners on how and why to select current evaluation tools and (ii) researchers on directions for future tool development. Tangible convening products include:

*A detailed, visual representation ("intended outcomes map") of the range of outcomes afterschool programs are seeking to achieve, related to student learning, educator capacity, program quality, family impacts, learning ecosystems connectivity;

*A taxonomy of current evaluation instruments aligned to these outcomes, with an explanation of how they overlap or differentiate both methodologically and theoretically;

*The identification of the areas where further work is needed, including further specification of learning outcomes and future development of evaluation tools.

This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.

Project Website(s)

(no project website provided)

Project Products

2021 STEM for All Video Showcase Video: (Un)Common Measures for OST STEM Learning

Team Members

Katie Headrick Taylor, Principal Investigator
Karen Peterson, Co-Principal Investigator
Jennifer Rinehart, Co-Principal Investigator
Bronwyn Bevan, Former Principal Investigator, University of Washington


Funding Source: NSF
Funding Program: AISL
Award Number: 1811487
Funding Amount: $250,000.00


Audience: Educators | Teachers | Evaluators | Learning Researchers | Museum | ISE Professionals
Discipline: Education and learning science | General STEM
Resource Type: Project Descriptions
Environment Type: Afterschool Programs | Conferences | Professional Development | Conferences | Networks | Public Programs