P E R S P E C T I V E S:
Evaluation & Research News
In This Issue
Evaluation Spotlight
In Other News...

In September, GRG began an evaluation for the Center for History and New Media at George Mason University of their online project, the National History Education Clearinghouse.
Read More.


GRG is starting evaluations of two separate climate change education projects: at Columbia University and at the Franklin Institute.

In November, 3 GRG staffers will present at the American Evaluation Association national conference in San Antonio, Texas.

GRG's Irene Goodman and Colleen Manning attended the Visitor Studies Association Conference in Phoenix, Arizona in July.

Take a look at GRG's recently updated news page! We've added a news archive and many interesting articles about GRG's work.

Want to learn more? Check us out online!

  Fall 2010
Irene picture

Welcome from the President.....

Autumn is here, and not just officially; I can see golden fall foliage outside my office window. Autumn, like Spring, is a time of new beginnings. (I fondly remember those brand new school books and supplies.) It's a busy time of year now, but then so is every season. And unlike those summer vacations of yore, we have no summer break at GRG. Many of our projects are in full swing all year round. As I write, we have 30 ongoing projects.

We do take breaks occasionally throughout the year, the most important one being our annual staff retreat, which occurred earlier this month. We meet off-site at a friend's well-appointed, lakeside house and take a step back from day-to-day concerns. It's a time to reflect, think of the big-picture, and work on team building, communication, creative idea-shaping, and strategic planning. One of the most useful and pleasurable activities (this is our second year doing it) is having each staff member make a pitch for something at the company, with the instruction that any idea - big or small - is worthwhile. Pitches have related to such areas as the evolution of project deliverables, client relations, quality control, programming details, research policies, our use of technology, and greening the office.

I am constantly amazed and gratified by the creative ideas generated by GRGers and, more generally, by the intelligence and passion with which they approach the research and evaluation work we do. The staff retreat is just one example of GRG as a "learning organization." The term and concept, coined by Peter Senge and popularized by the book The Fifth Discipline, is defined as a group of people working together to collectively enhance their capacities to create results they really care about. (Coincidentally, Senge founded a company whose office previously was in our current GRG location.) Five elements of a learning organization have been defined as systems thinking, personal mastery, mental models, shared vision, and team learning. Placing emphasis on these in various ways results in benefits to individual staff, to our company as a whole and, by extension, to our clients. The following descriptions of GRG projects and accomplishments illustrate some of our extremely interesting work and the learning activities in which we participate.

'Irene' signature
Irene F. Goodman, Ed.D.

Evaluation Spotlight


Science Festivals Opportunity for Interactions with Scientists

GRG is engaged in evaluating a new Informal Science Education (ISE) model - the science festival. While science festivals (distinct from science fairs) have a foothold internationally, they are a relatively new phenomenon in North America. The Science Festival Alliance (SFA), a collaboration of the University of California-San Diego, the MIT Museum (Cambridge), the University of California-San Francisco, and the Franklin Museum (Philadelphia), has funding from the National Science Foundation to create a national network of science festivals associated with year-round ISE activity. The project is in its second of three years.


One of the unique features of science festivals is that they provide opportunities for the public to engage with science professionals. GRG's evaluation of the 2010 Cambridge and San Diego festivals found that interacting with a science professional made attendees more interested in science, made science more fun, and helped them learn more about science. The value-added of interacting with a scientist was most pronounced in younger attendees (under 25).

 How Interaction with a Scientist Facilitated Outcomes

for Young Science Festival Attendees

Metropolitan Opera

GRG recently conducted an external evaluation of The Metropolitan Opera's HD Live in Schools program, taking place in 18 cities around the country. The project is an offshoot of the very popular HD (high definition) live transmissions of operas in movie theaters across the U.S.  We surveyed 247 students from 6 cities and 107 educators from 18 cities at the end of the season. The program not only appealed to both the students and the educators, but participation in the program was also associated with students' increased knowledge about opera as an art form, and it also helped dispel common myths about opera. Additionally, the students were more receptive to opera and performing arts in general after the program.

The HD Live in Schools training was highly effective in preparing educators to implement the program. The pre- and post-opera activities conducted by teachers in their classrooms helped students prepare for and understand the operas.

To view the Executive Summary, click here.

The Amazing Nano Brothers at Boston's Museum of Science
In summer 2010, GRG conducted an outcome evaluation of an educational live performance, The Amazing Nano Brothers Juggling Show at Boston's Museum of Science. The show presents scientific concepts about atoms and nanoscience in a highly entertaining and engaging performance. The mixed-method evaluation used a quasi-experimental pre/post design with the museum's general audiences and interviews with middle school and high school teachers whose classes had attended a performance. The Amazing Nano Brothers Juggling Show successfully taught audiences of all ages about nanoscience and nanotechnology. The medium of juggling was particularly engaging and an appropriate means for teaching and reinforcing nanoscience concepts - particularly about the structure, movement and manipulation of atoms.
To view the Full Report, click here.

bhHarvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics-Black Holes Experiment Gallery

GRG recently completed the summative evaluation of the Black Holes Experiment Gallery (BHEG), a traveling exhibit by the Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. The exhibit, which aims to engage museum visitors in the topic of black holes, has an innovative component: a Black Holes Explorer's Card. Using the card, visitors collected digital artifacts at the museum and could then access that information at home on the BHEG website.

The museum visitors showed an increase in knowledge of and interest in black holes and astronomy based on their experience with the exhibit. Moreover, we found that use of the card enhanced these visitors' outcomes; it made a difference in visitors' time spent, their interest, and their learning at the exhibit. This innovative networked technology helped optimize the exhibit experience for visitors and at the same time functioned as a tool for embedded assessment.

To view the Full Report, click here.

National Academy of Engineers
In September 2010, GRG finished a five-year study of the Engineering Equity Extension Service (EEES), funded by NSF through the National Academy of Engineering's Center for the Advancement of Scholarship on Engineering Education (CASEE). The EEES project was designed to share how-to information about equity education with the engineering community. CASEE collaborated with multiple organizations to reach this goal. GRG found that EEES participants were satisfied with their overall experiences and believed project objectives were met. Participants also appreciated access they gained to the education research infrastructure of the National Academies and access to recognized experts in the field.

In Other News...
GRG's Colleen Manning Receives Dissertation Grant
GRG's Director of Research, Colleen Manning, with Dissertation Chair Dr. Randy Albelda of the University of Massachusetts, Boston, has received a Child Care Research Scholars Grant to fund her doctoral research entitled "Occupational Exit of Family Child Care Providers." This $30,000 grant was awarded by the federal Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation in the Administration for Children and Families. As part of this grant, Ms. Manning presented her plan at the Annual Meeting of the Child Care Policy Research Consortium (CCPRC) on October 22, 2010, in Washington, DC. Ms. Manning's dissertation draws from data collected in several studies conducted by Mills Consulting Group and GRG.

GRG Staff to Present at NEMA Conference

GRG will have a presence at this fall's New England Museum Association (NEMA) Conference taking place on November 3-5 in Springfield, MA. Irene Goodman, Rucha Londhe, and Rachel Schechter will lead a workshop about technology and museum evaluation. The workshop, titled Museum Evaluation in the Digital Age: From Basics to the Bells and Whistles, will demonstrate the process of embedded evaluation using audience feedback to fit the workshop to the audience. While focusing on technological tools, the workshop will connect institutional goals with evaluation methods.

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