Release Your Inner Research Geek! Part 1: Bringing Evaluation to Your Museum

Elizabeth Bolander, Cleveland Museum of Art, USA, Hannah Ridenour, The Cleveland Museum of Art, USA

This workshop is designed for budding evaluators and practitioners interested in evaluation who want to learn about the logistics of evaluation study design as well as for non-evaluators looking to incorporate evaluation into their daily practices. The methods discussed throughout the workshop will be flexible and fluid in nature, offering professionals from a variety of museums the ability to understand how to design a custom evaluation to meet their institution’s needs.
The workshop will begin with a quick overview of how the Cleveland Museum of Art built its department of Research and Evaluation, highlighting how we actively cultivate a culture of evaluation throughout the institution. Next, attendees will learn about evaluation design and the four types of evaluation (Front-end, Formative, Remedial, and Summative). Presenters will then walk through the “life cycle” of their evaluation. This “life cycle” will include the following: identifying which phase of evaluation their study should fall under; defining goals and objectives based on the stakeholder(s) needs; selecting a method(s) to employ based on the objectives of the study; managing the active project (dealing with budgets, timelines, outsourcing evaluation projects, and keeping track of data); developing questions; basic analysis techniques; as well as sharing findings. Presenters will also share tips and tricks for monitoring interactive displays, apps, and websites through free resources such as Google Analytics.

Attendees can enhance their experience by also taking Release Your Inner Research Geek! Part 2: Learning from Your Visitors.

Stockdale, Meghan and Elizabeth Bolander. "Mastering the art and science of formative evaluation in art museums." MW2015: Museums and the Web 2015. Published January 31, 2015. Consulted September 30, 2016.
Diamond, Judy, Michael Horn, and David H. Uttal. 2016. Practical Evaluation Guide: Tools for Museums and Other Informal Educational Settings (3rd ed.) Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers.

Patton, M. Q. 2002. Qualitative Research & Evaluation Methods. (3rd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications Inc.

Step-by-Step Guides for Conducting a Formative Evaluation. 1987. In Joan L. Herman, Lynn Lyons Morris, & Carol Taylor Fitz-Gibbon (Eds.), Evaluator’s Handbook. (pp. 42-87). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, Inc. doi:

Rossi, P. H., Lipsey, M. W., and Freeman, H.E. 2004. Evaluation: A Systematic Approach (7th ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications Inc.
Upcoming workshops (“Measure, Rinse, Repeat: Choosing the Right Metrics to Better Understand & Reach Your Audience” and “Evaluation Tips, Tricks, and Shortcuts for Evaluation Skeptics”) and sessions (“Empowered Data: Evaluating Visitors’ Experiences Using Technologies to Make Informed Decisions” and “Can I do that? The nuts and bolts of evaluating in-gallery interpretive tools and interactives”) at MCN 2016 indicate that research and evaluation for non-evaluators is a relevant and sought-after topic.