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R Londhe on Networked Technology as an Embedded Assessment Tool in Museum Settings

I am Rucha Londhe, a Research Associate/Project Manager at Goodman Research Group, Inc., a research company that specializes in evaluation of programs, materials, and services. I recently evaluated Black Holes Exhibit Gallery (BHEG) a traveling exhibit on black holes and the accompanying materials produced by the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory (SAO), which aimed at engaging museum visitors and youth collaborators on the topic of black holes.

Rad Resource: One of the innovations of the project evaluated was the use of networked exhibit technologies to personalize and enhance the visitor experience of science inquiry, both within and beyond the exhibit gallery. Visitors at the exhibit became black hole explorers. They got an opportunity to make predictions, gather evidence, and draw their own conclusions. Visitors could also extend their learning beyond the exhibit experience; using the identification tags (the Black Holes Explorer Card below) they could personalize their observations, create a personal journal and website, and access it from home. The technology also proved to be an evaluation tool. As a part of the sign-in process, the visitors answered a question related to their attitude toward, knowledge about, or interest in the concept of black holes. At the end of the exhibition at the sign-out station the visitors answered another question from the above pool of questions. The answers to the questions at the sign-in stations provided the pre-experience data and those at the sign-out station provided the post-experience data for analysis. For more information on the exhibit visit


Black Holes Explorer Card

Hot tip: The use of innovative network technology, which turned out to be the highlight of the BHEG project, had three advantages:

  • The technology had a novelty appeal. It gave a personal effect. You could take a part of your experience with you after you left the museum.
  • The technology enhanced visitors’ outcomes. The use of the card made a difference in visitors’ time spent, their interest, and their learning at the exhibit. It helped optimize the exhibit experience for the visitors. In the future, the Explorer’s Card could be adapted and used in various types of exhibit. The look of the card would vary depending upon the topic at hand.
  • Finally, the network technology proved to be an extremely useful evaluation tool, providing an opportunity for the embedded assessment of visitor outcomes at the exhibit.

To learn more about this evaluation visit www.grginc.com

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