P E R S P E C T I V E S:
Evaluation & Research News
In This Issue
Evaluation of the Schwartz Center Connections Program
Evaluation Spotlight
In Other News...
In Brief
Science Festivals Begin this Week

Both the Cambridge Science Festival and Philadelphia Science Festival kick off this week and continue through April 29th. GRG is evaluating both festivals, surveying attendees at different events throughout the week. If you're in either of these cities, be on the lookout for us in our festival t-shirts!

Science festivals have been becoming very popular in the United States and abroad. Check out the recent New York Times article about John Durant, who started the Cambridge Science Festival in 2007, to learn more about the burgeoning trend.

Read the article here. 


Tina Lagerstedt



Want to learn more? Check us out online!


  Spring 2012  
Welcome from the President.....


GRG Conference Room
Our new conference room!

As I write this on Patriots' Day, our state holiday, the 116th Boston Marathon has just finished. It reminds me of the entrepreneur who said that running a marathon is very similar to running a small business. To succeed, one needs to set a long-term goal and then set benchmarks (shorter-term goals) along the way. Day-to-day tasks might seem like distractions, but setting those short-term goals and then scheduling activities needed to reach them is what makes the long-term goal attainable. Finally, one reaches the end goal -- marathon day -- and is able to cross the finish line. Running a marathon or a business requires persistence, a competitive edge, and a mental toughness.


Marathoners crave cool temperatures, but today's unseasonable high of 89 degrees made it one of the 10 hottest days in the history of the race, resulting in some of the slowest finish times in years. Marathons don't get canceled because it's a lot hotter than ideal, and a business cannot sit out during tough economic times. In both endeavors, one must find a way to push oneself to stay in the race, even when ascending Heartbreak Hill at the 20-mile mark.


As part of our own "marathon," GRG moved its office last month just two buildings down the street from our old digs. With our 7-year lease ending, we knew it was time to make a change to more affordable quarters. The silver lining is that even though our new office has less square footage than the old one, there is actually more usable space.


As I packed, I took a trip down memory lane, finding many artifacts that made me chuckle, such as a "data file" from 1990 that consisted of several 8 x 11 sheets of paper with rows and columns of raw data written in pencil, a box of floppy disks, a 1998 office manual in which the instructions for overnight delivery were "Go to front porch and flag down Keith, the FedEx guy," a 2002 internal document describing factors to consider if we were to start using online surveys, and all the clever holiday cards we've sent since 1995.


The saying, "This isn't a sprint; it's a marathon," will always be true for GRG. Now in our 23rd year of business, we have no intention of ending anytime soon. The race keeps going on, and we're sticking to our route, our short-term goals, and our long-term plan, performing with our stellar staff and partnering with our diverse constellation of interesting clients. I hope that if you're in the area, you'll come visit us at 929 Mass Ave, Suite 2A - still 02139.


  'Irene' signature
Irene F. Goodman, Ed.D.
Founder and President

Evaluation of the Schwartz Center Connections Program

By Colleen Manning & Karen Gareis

GRG evaluated Schwartz Center Connections, a pilot program designed to enhance communication and relationships between healthcare providers from Primary Care and a subspecialty (in the pilot, Gastroenterology) and between providers and patients. The goal was to improve patient safety and thereby reduce malpractice claims. The Connections program involved facilitated group discussion of cases based on closed malpractice claims, reflection on the impact of these cases, and discussion of effective communication strategies. The program was funded by the patient safety and medical malpractice company for Harvard-affiliated hospitals, CRICO/RMF.


GRG's evaluation was a pre-post study of clinical staff at two hospitals who attended at least two Connections sessions with a comparison group of providers who did not attend any sessions.  Both groups completed pre- and post-surveys; pilot program participants were also invited to a focus group or phone interview.


The Schwartz Center Connections pilot program was effective. Attendees showed statistically significant gains in knowledge about communication strategies and reported communication behaviors, whereas the comparison group showed no such gains. The majority of Connections participants reported communicating more often with other members of the hospital staff and with patients. Participants also reported being more likely to notice and to intervene to avoid potential communication lapses. Finally, institutional policy changes were initiated or energized as a result of the Connections program. 


Evaluation Spotlight


Discovery Channel Frozen Planet

Goodman Research Group, Inc. (GRG) is conducting a summative evaluation of Frozen Planet, a seven-episode prime-time natural history series co-produced by the Discovery Channel and BBC, and the accompanying Discovery Channel/Frozen Planet website. The Frozen Planet project aims to introduce viewers to the earth's Polar regions and to show the impact of the year-long seasonal changes on the landscape and wildlife. GRG's evaluation is assessing the overall influence of the series on viewers; in particular, the extent to which the series' visuals and the portrayal of the natural world lead viewers to understand, appreciate, and want to learn more about the environment and the global importance of the Poles to the functioning of the entire Earth climate system. On April 13, GRG Project Manager Elizabeth Bachrach participated in a lunch-time presentation that Discovery Channel made at National Science Foundation. Dr. Bachrach discussed some of the preliminary findings from our national viewer study.


WETA's Reading Rockets

GRG is currently conducting its 10th annual evaluation of Reading Rockets, a national multimedia project that provides a variety of resources, strategies, and research-based information to help young children learn to read. Reading Rockets offers four websites, professional development for teachers, several TV programs in conjunction with PBS, and a variety of social media outlets to help build childhood literacy. This year's evaluation focuses on three specific Reading Rockets resources: the Literacy in the Sciences site, Classroom Strategies videos, and Family Literacy Bags. A group of active Reading Rockets users -- teachers, parents, and other education professionals -- are providing feedback on each of these resources.  

In Other News...

GRG Staff Travel to Washington, DC for CAISE Workshops

Over the last few months, three GRG staff members traveled to Washington, DC, to attend a special series of mini-workshops put on by the Center for Advancement of Informal Science Education (CAISE) and the National Science Foundation (NSF). The workshops were small, invitational convenings focused around specific topics for Informal Science Education (ISE)-funded principal investigators (PIs) and their project evaluators.  


The workshops were intended to complement and inform a strand of the larger March 2012 ISE meeting for all PIs as well as to inform the ISE program's strategic direction in its funding. Many other project PIs attended the meeting, including several GRG clients. Colleen Manning and Karen Gareis attended the November workshop on ISE Organizational Networks. Karen Gareis and Pam Stazesky attended the February workshop on ISE Professional Development.  


Additionally, Irene Goodman attended a one-day conference for STEM media professionals (film, TV, radio, online/digital platforms) in March that was also convened by CAISE. 

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