Long-term Impacts of Early Childhood STEM Instruction

One of the projects I’m currently working on is a formative evaluation for a multi-year grant with PBS Kids to develop STEM-oriented programming for young children. Its not really possible to see longer-term impacts of instructional programming (esp. with a formative evaluation initiative – focused on quickly gathering feedback to help drive immediate changes/improvements to a product), so its exciting when other researchers are unable to uncover links. On that note, I’m excited to share a link to the following article which highlights recent finding that connect early STEM learning to outcomes observed later in a child’s life.



IRB deregulation on the horizon!

At long last, we can see some new Human Subjects guidelines/regulations on the horizon! An article entitled “Long-Sought Research Deregulation Is Upon Us. Don’t Squander the Moment,” recently appearing in The Chronicle of Higher Education, provides more info on the upcoming changes: https://shar.es/1F3hQF

In the meantime (i.e., til January 2018), if you are doing work with Human Subjects and/or have been asked to get an IRB review – this webinar may be of interest:

“Surviving the IRB Process” (part of a professional development partnership between VSA and ASTC)

The power of posters!


When I saw this article come through my feed this morning I said “yes, yes, and more yes!”:

Posters – They’re Not Just for Conferences Anymore!

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Having written many a 50+ page report only to have it go un-read, and therefore ultimately unused, I’ve become a firm believer in the power of shorter-format reporting – including slidedeck reports, posters and infographic summaries. I agree with the following statement by Stephanie’s guest host, Kylie Hutchinson, “An effectively designed poster can be very ‘sticky’ compared to other forms of reporting. While a fifty-page report is sitting on a shelf somewhere collecting dust, a poster can hang around an organization’s lunch room or hallway for a long time, continuing to engage stakeholders and disseminate your key messages.”

However, don’t rush off thinking “great, I’ll save so much time if I don’t have to write a long report!” Creating effective short-format reports can often take just as much time as a longer report. The process of curation is time consuming, as are efforts to craft visual components that have an anesthetic appeal, but can also effectively communicate desired information. Deciding to go with a short format report likely won’t save you time/money, but definitely might be a better allocation of those resources if your stakeholders agree that it would be an effective way to communicate findings to them.

I’m happy with the way my AERA poster turned out, but sadly I’m not able to travel to San Antonio to present due to a scheduling conflict. Thankfully my colleague Julia has kindly agreed to fill in. You can stop by to see her and all the other great presenters in a poster panel about different types of observational methods in informal learning spaces– organized by Aaron Price–from 10:35a-12:05 on Saturday, April 29th in room 221 D (meeting room level) .


I used a template from: Makesigns.com to create this poster, in about an hour.

Here are a few other examples of “short reports” that we’ve created over the past few years. The first was designed to be a summary of online usage statistics for a program/product that we were evaluating.  The second is an example of a summary of findings from an online professional development session that we evaluated.


Principles of Audience Research and Evaluation

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Elee kicks things off for our evaluation workshop – April 19, 2017

I was so thrilled to co-present a workshop today at the National Council on Public History’s annual conference/meeting in Indianapolis along with VSA, Vice President for Professional Development, Elee Wood.

Our 4-hour workshop, entitled Principles of Audience Research and Evaluation in Public History: Purpose, Process and Implementation, covered background information and basic processes for doing evaluation.

We are hoping to develop a version of this presentation that can be shared at conferences that would be of interest to people seeking to learn more about how to study visitors and do evaluation in visitor-oriented settings. So stay tuned for opportunities to take the workshop at a conference coming to a town near you!

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Click here for a link to the presentation.

Upcoming visitor studies training opportunities

I’m really excited to announce a couple professional development opportunities that I’ve been helping to organize on behalf of the Visitor Studies Association, in my capacity as chair of the professional development Association.

The first is a webinar on April 27th featuring presenter, Beverly Serrell–the woman who literally wrote the book on Tracking and Timing as a method for studying visitors in exhibits. This is part of a series of professional development opportunities that VSA is co-hosting with ASTC: http://www.astc.org/profdev/webinar-tracking-timing/
Webinar_Timing-Graphs.jpg    Serrellheadshot copy
Registration link: https://members.astc.org/ASTC_Prod_iMIS/EventDetail?EventKey=PD2017VSA1&WebsiteKey=56a4f481-6bb9-45a8-96a1-f9abf9c90cbc

The other event is the 2017 VSA conference in Columbus Ohio.  We’ve got a lot of great Pre-conference workshops planned so be sure to check out all of these great PD opportunities as well: http://www.visitorstudies.org/conference-registratio

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Toward a more perfect pie chart

In honor of Pi Day (3.14), I present this pie chart from a report that I did for PBS Kids back in 2013.  Rather than creating three different charts, I sought to visually represent three sets of key participant demographic data in one, visually appealing chart.

In addition to layering three pie chart rings together into one chart, I also toyed with the image fill feature as an alternative to a color fill as a way to convey information without having to add additional text to the chart.  It was fun (and challenging) to try to find images that could convey location information at-a-glance. I think the end result is also more visually appealing with those images included.

I’d be the first to say that this chart isn’t perfect, and I know there are folks who disapprove of pie charts in general, but I think this chart is able to communicate some basic information about our participants fairly clearly and concisely – and in a visually appealing way. Screen Shot 2017-05-16 at 11.17.14 AM

Election-themed babyshower

This week we celebrated the upcoming arrival of Alison’s baby with an election-themed baby shower. With a due-date near the US elections in November, this seemed like a fun way to forego traditional pastels for some good old red, white, and blue! Alison actually inspired this theme when she sent an election themed package to let us know that she was expecting. Congrats Alison – we can’t wait to meet baby Allen!