GSNE Week: Kathayoon Khalil on Evaluating Informal Learning Environments

My name is Kathayoon Khalil and I’m a Ph.D. candidate at Stanford University’s Graduate School of Education studying evaluation practices in informal learning environments. I also conduct exhibit and program evaluations for informal learning institutions including zoos, aquariums, and museums. This post gives a couple tips on staying up-to-date on evaluations happening throughout the country, a critically important task for students and professionals.

Lessons Learned: Evaluation is everywhere. Evaluations are being undertaken in a wide variety of sectors and the tools and tricks used in evaluations are constantly changing. Innovations are occurring on all levels and sometimes it can be hard to keep on top of what’s new and valuable in the evaluation world. Making this already daunting task more difficult, many evaluations are only used internally by institutions and so a lot of good evaluation work is not read by others.

Online repositories for evaluation reports are around, though, and provide a wealth of valuable resources for people looking to learn new approaches to evaluation as well as tried and true classic methodologies. Reading evaluation reports, especially those done outside of your field, is a great way to stay current on evaluation practices and either corroborate or reinvigorate the evaluation approach you are taking.

Rad Resource-
The newly overhauled is my favorite evaluation database. The new iteration of this site includes a searchable database of evaluation reports, as well as research and evaluation instruments. Furthermore, you can sort these reports by environment type, resource or instrument type, audience, content, content source, and funding source. The Informal Science site also has resources for finding an evaluator and links to evaluation databases, associations, handbooks, and publications on evaluation research. This website is a great one-stop-shop for many of your evaluation needs, and can be a great jumping off point for people who want more information and need to know where to find it.

You can also submit to this database, which provides an exciting opportunity to share evaluation information with practitioners and researchers. The more people who submit evaluations, the more examples of evaluation reports and tools we all have to learn from! The database accepts submissions of evaluations of a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) learning project. You must hold copyright of the evaluation report you are trying to submit or be willing to share it under the Creative Commons License.

Good luck!

AEA is celebrating GSNE Week with our colleagues in the Graduate Student and New Evaluators AEA Topical Interest Group. The contributions all this week to aea365 come from our GSNE TIG members. Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

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