Forum Evaluation

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Elizabeth Kunz Kollmann from the Museum of Science, Boston, gives an overview of evaluation methodologies and results from the NISE Network's forum program.

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  • Nanoscale Informal Science Education Network (NISE) Is a nationwide effort Aims to foster public awareness, engagement, and understanding of nanoscale science, engineering, and technology through the establishment of a Network that links informal science education organizations and scientistsThe NISE Network is trying to teach the public about nanotechnology through many different methods In the first five years of the Network, the forum team created programs to promote public participationin dialogue and discussion about nanoscale science, engineering, and technology and its societal and ethical implicationsThe forum team was made up of five institutions including Museum of Science in Boston, Museum of Life and Science in Durham, NC, Oregon Museum of Science and Industry in Portland,Science Museum of Minnesota in St. Paul, Exploratorium in San Francisco, CA
  • Findings from these evaluations indicate the following:That different demographic groups were attracted to different forums.Participants learned about both nanoscale science, engineering, and technology and its societal and ethical implications from the forumsParticipants reported that the forums gave them a chance to practice their ability to participate in discussions about science. They also reported that the forums increased their comfort in participating in these discussions.I will now talk about each of these findings in more detail.
  • Most participants told us that the key reason that they decided to attend the NISE Net forums was to learn about nanotechnology “To learn about nanotechnology” N=543, number choosing option: 447, % of participants: 82%“To learn about the [forum topic]” N=511, number choosing option: 251, % of participants: 49%“To hear others’ perspectives” N=543, number choosing option: 238, % of participants: 44%Because many previous studies indicated that the topic of a program or exhibit can impact who attends, evaluators looked at the formative evaluation data to understand if participants demographics differed based on the forum topicOverall, it was discovered that the 944 participants who attended the forums that were a part of the formative evaluation were split almost evenly between males (51%) and females (49%). However, when splitting this data based on the forum topic, it was found that there was a significant difference in the distribution of males and females (N=944, X2=17.390, df=4, p=.002) with more males attending the energy forums than expected.Evaluators also looked at the age distribution of the adults who attended the forums.Overall, it was found that each adult age category made up between 17 and 20% of the forum attendees except for adults 65 and older who only made up 9% of the forum attendeesHowever, looking at the individual forum topics, it was found that:More people 65 and older attended the energy forums than expectedFewer people 18-24 attended the consumer product labeling forums than expected(N=513, X2=40.336, df=15, p<.001)Finally, evaluators looked at the data to understand whether there were any differences in the races or ethnicities of the participants who attended the different programsOverall, 79% of the participants identified themselves as only as white while 21% identified themselves as white and another race or ethnicity or non-whiteLooking at the individual forum topics, it was found that the nanomedicine forums were attended by more non-whites than expected (N=937, X2=10.819, df=4, p=.029)These findings indicate that participants are likely to be attracted to your program because they want to learn about the program topic. However, the topic that you choose will likely impact who comes to your programs.
  • Participants of the evaluations were also asked a series of questions about what they learned from the forums.The formative and summative evaluations reported that participants said they felt more informed about nanotechnology because of the forumSummative: (N=30, Z=3.9769, p<.0001)Formative: “I feel more informed about nanotechnology.” N=551, M=3.3, SD=0.7, % >= agree: 90%The summative evaluation of the nanomedicine forum found that the forum significantly increased participants’ understanding that:Nanotechnology operates on a submicroscopic or smaller scale (McNemar test with continuity correction: N=32, X2=4.923, df=1, p=.0265), and That nanotechnology properties are dependent on size or scale (McNemar test with continuity correction: N=32, X2=4.900, df=1, p=.0269)On the formative and summative evaluations, participants also reported that they felt more informed about the benefits, risks, or risks and benefits of nanotechnology because of the forumsSummative: Wilcoxin ranked signs tests indicated that participants felt significantly more aware of the benefits or potential benefits of nanotechnology in personal care products like lotions and cosmetics (N=30, Z=3.5712, p=.0002) and medicine (N=30, Z=0.1198, p=.0009) after the forum. Wilcoxin ranked signs tests also indicated that participants felt significantly more aware of the risks or potential risks of nanotechnology personal care products (N=29, Z=3.9668, p<.0001) and medicine (N=30, Z=3.7233, p<.0001)Formative: “I feel more informed about the risks and benefits of [SEI topic].” N=466, M=3.0, SD=0.7, %>=agree: 78%These findings imply that participants will not just learn about the societal and ethical implications of a science topic through a forum.Therefore, you don’t have to worry about sacrificing science learning when presenting these kinds of programs Rather, participants learn about both the science topic and its societal and ethical implications
  • In order to find out if the forums achieved their goals relating to the discussion, participants were asked a series of questions on the evaluations about how they viewed and felt about the small group discussionFindings from both the formative and summative evaluation indicate that participants felt they had a chance to voice their opinions during the small group discussionFormative: “I had a chance to voice my opinions about the topic.” N=196, M=3.5, SD=0.5, % >= agree: 98%Summative: “I added my own viewpoints to the group discussion” (N=32, M=6.0 out of 7).Participants also reported that they felt comfortable voicing their viewpoints during the discussion with the summative evaluation participants reporting that they felt significantly more comfortable participating in these kinds of discussions after the forumFormative: “I felt comfortable voicing my opinions.” N=680, M=3.4, SD=0.6, % >= agree: 95%Summative: “I feel comfortable expressing my viewpoints about nanotechnology in a group discussion” Wilcoxin ranked signs test found that participants ranked the statement significantly higher after the forum (N=29, Z=2.5249, p=.0058)Participants were also asked whether they experienced a diversity of viewpoints during their discussions, and overall, participants reported that this was true.Formative: “A diverse range of viewpoints were represented in our small group discussion.” N=535, M=3.1, SD=0.7, % >= agree: 86%Summative: “I was exposed to viewpoints different from my own” (N=32, M=5.7 out of 7)Finally, participants were asked to report whether they felt they weighed the pros and cons of the nanotechnology during their small group discussion, and again, the formative and summative evaluation showed that participants felt that this was true.Summative: “Our discussions effectively considered risks or potential risks of nanotechnology” (N=32, M=6.2 out of 7)“Our discussions effectively considered benefits or potential benefits of nanotechnology” (N=32, M=6.0 out of 7)Formative: “We weighed the pros and cons of the [forum topic]during our small group discussion.” N=499, M=3.2, SD=0.6, %>= agree 91%These findings imply that the forums provided participants with an atmosphere in which they were able to increase their comfort in voicing their opinions about a science topic.The forums also allowed participants to hear diverse opinions and weigh the benefits and drawbacks of nanotechnology.
  • Forum Evaluation

    1. 1. Evaluation of the NISE Net Forums<br />Elizabeth Kunz Kollmann<br />www.nisenet.org<br />
    2. 2. NISE Network Forum Team<br />Museum of Science, Boston<br />Science Museum of Minnesota<br />Exploratorium<br />Oregon Museum of Science and Industry<br />Museum of Life and Science<br />
    3. 3. Forum Goals<br />Enhancing participants’ understandings of nanoscale science, technology, and engineering and its potential impact on participants’ lives, society, and the environment.<br />Strengthening the public’s and scientists’ acceptance of, and familiarity with, diverse points of view related to nanoscale science, technology, and engineering.<br />Engaging participants in discussions and dialogues where they consider the positive and negative impacts of existing or potential nanotechnologies.<br />Increasing participants’ confidence in participating in public discourse about nanotechnologies and/or the value they find in engaging in such activities.<br />
    4. 4. Formative Evaluations <br />Summative Evaluation of Nanomedicine Forum<br />
    5. 5. Formative Evaluation Methods<br />Registration survey<br />Pre/post event survey<br />Forum observations<br />Small group videotaping<br />Speaker follow-up email survey<br />Educator debrief<br />
    6. 6. Summative Evaluation Methods<br />Pre-forum survey<br />Immediate post-forum survey<br />Two-week follow-up online survey<br />
    7. 7. Different demographic groups were attracted to different topics.<br />Participants learned about both societal and ethical implications and nanotechnology.<br />The forums gave participants a chance to practice and increase their comfort participating in discussions.<br />
    8. 8. Differing Participant Demographics<br />Males more attracted to forums about energy<br />Older adults more attracted to forum topics like energy and consumer product labeling<br />Non-whites more attracted to forums about applied topics such as medicine<br />
    9. 9. Learning about SEI and Nano<br />Increased knowledge and awareness of nanoscale science, engineering, and technology<br />Increased awareness of the risks and benefits of nanotechnology<br />
    10. 10. Practice and Comfort Participating in Discussions <br />Had a chance to voice their opinions<br />Felt comfortable voicing their opinions<br />Heard diverse viewpoints<br />Weighed the pros and cons of nano during the discussion<br />
    11. 11. Evaluations indicate that the NISE Net forums achieved their participant goals<br />This does not mean that these evaluations are one-size-fits-all<br />Instead, evaluation decisions should be made based on goals and other considerations<br />
    12. 12. Contact InformationElizabeth Kunz Kollmannekollmann@mos.orgMuseum of Science, Boston<br />This presentation was based on work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. ESI-0532536. Any opinions, findings and conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this report are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Foundation.<br />

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