"Program assessment and evaluation provide critical feedback for ensuring that a program is making the most of this opportunity. Additionally, these reviews can prove useful in securing funding."
Two Coalition members have recently completed major evaluation studies. Destination ImagiNation, a national non-profit afterschool program, underwent an evaluation by the University of Virginia. They found that Destination ImagiNation participants outperformed their non-participant peers on creative thinking, critical thinking, and problem-solving--all stated goals of the program.
Project Exploration, located in Chicago, found that they have had a major impact in participants' decisions to stick with STEM education and career goals. The study was done by the Center for Research, Evaluation, and Assessment (REA) at the Lawrence Hall of Science, UC Berkeley and looked at ten years' of data collected by Project Exploration as well as surveys of more than 30% of Project Exploration participants. They also found that their youth-centered model was effective in encouraging positive youth development outcomes. You can read the full report, or listen to a podcast about the study at the National Conference on Science and Technology in Out-of-School Time presented by Project Exploration co-founder and director Gabrielle Lyon and REA Research Specialist Bernadette Chi.
The Coalition website also has a list of tools available for program evaluation, as well as a list of independent evaluators from across the country. Looking for even more evidence of why evaluation is so important? Download this podcast from our conference in September, presented by Dr. Alan Friedman of The Museum Group. The podcast, called Three Reasons to be Eager to Do Evaluation: Your Funders, Your Organization and Your Students, presents compelling reasons why evaluation and assessment should be made a regular part of program design and implementation.