Ongoing Project Evaluations
External evaluation is a fundamental component of the NASA’s Universe of Learning program. To assess our projects and activities, and their impacts on audiences, we have selected Goodman Research Group, Inc. to serve as our program’s external evaluator. Their ongoing assessments of our program provide quantitative and qualitative information that help us improve our projects, which means we can reach wider audiences more effectively.
As our team continues to develop and modify programs, products, and experiences, Goodman Research Group carries out evaluations to understand the needs of participants in identified settings. Needs assessments help us leverage and translate assets as well as design activities in ways that are responsive to and inclusive of the backgrounds and needs of various learners and communities.
These types of evaluation assess how well NASA’s Universe of Learning is running by tracking data collected when our programming occurs (e.g., number of participants) and gathering feedback from learners and informal educators regarding their experiences and satisfaction. Process evaluation helps monitor areas that are important to making the program successful, such as the overall operations of the NASA’s Universe of Learning partnership.
Summative/Collective Impact Evaluation
External evaluation occurs at the individual project level as well as at the portfolio level, where the accumulated impact of the connected NASA’s Universe of Learning projects is considered. This includes the use of consistent outcome measures across the portfolio, which are aligned with our program’s framework (i.e., science content themes and informal learning strands) as well as the objectives of NASA’s Science Activation program.
APPROACH AND METHODS
Evaluation Planning and Management
Goodman Research Group works with NASA’s Universe of Learning to establish the purpose, audiences, appropriate design, and planned use of evaluation efforts. They keep our team engaged and informed, and adjust their work plan, schedule, and milestones as needed based on changes that the NASA’s Universe of Learning team members make in response.
Data Sources and Methods
Sources of information for NASA’s Universe of Learning evaluation include documents, team members, and learners and communities. Data collection methods include online surveys, interviews, focus groups, observations, site visits, and literature reviews. Analysis of quantitative data includes descriptive and inferential statistics, and analysis of qualitative data incorporates thematic and content analyses.
Goodman Research Group provides the NASA’s Universe of Learning team with ongoing feedback and reports, ensuring that the team is positioned to make informed, data-driven decisions. In addition, we regularly meet to ensure that everyone is receiving all of the necessary updates and information.