Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Summative Evaluation

Anonymous asked: Dear Lynda, Does visitors book and feedback form that we found at the end of exhibition falls under summative evaluation?

Hi Anonymous. In my view visitors' books and feedback forms, when used strategically, can be a very valuable and easy form of summative evaluation. For example, we used feedback forms for a controversial exhibition, and by posting up others' forms coupled with media clippings found that we had a series of conversation happening – visitor-to-museum and visitor-to-visitor. Feedback forms can also help gather demographic information if you don't have the resources to do a targeted survey.

For more information about summative evaluation see the information sheet called Exhibition Evaluation on my website, and also the paper outlining the history and future of audience research that I have posted to my wiki – it is the one called Evaluation, Research and Communities of Practice: Program Evaluation in Museums (go down the page a bit).


Anonymous said...

Dear Lynda,

Thank you for your feedback. It was very helpful.
Through my observation and some research, I found it hard to get evidence for evaluation reports involving other than traditional methods. I mean, most of the evaluation report that been shown through the net was based on surveys, interviews and observations only. And many of them that appeared have not been properly published. Why is this scenario happened? How do we judge whether this report can be utalised by other researcher?
Also why aren't other interesting technique of evaluation such as audio and video recording, audiences' drawing and sketching are not being put into published report?

Thanks in advance for your reply.

Gillian said...

Hi Anon, I thought I would chip in.

You have a couple of questions here - one about techniques and one about publishing results.

1. Techniques. The more interesting techniques like recording, drawing and sketching are more expensive to gather the data and to collate and interpret it. They are perhaps best suited as part of a multi-method study that is a large scale exercise, and of course these will be less common than small scale evaluations.

2. Publishing. I suspect that most museums conduct evaluation with the primary purpose of feeding the information into their operations. It is applied research more than it is theoretical. They want to put most of their effort into applying the findings and improving their exhibitions. Publishing is a lower priority that usually gives way to the more immediate priorities.

LyndaK said...

Thanks Gillian. There are many examples of really innovatove work and as Gillian stated they often aren't published. I have been doing work with children aged under five years and also with school students where we used these kinds of methods. I won't publish them online (like I do most of my stuff) as we don't have clearance. However, we will try and publish some of this work next year.
You could also take a look at the following book: Leinhardt, G., Crowley, K., & Knutson, K. (Eds.). (2002). Learning Conversations in Museums, as there are reports of some innovative methodolgies there. I also posted on this blog about innovative audience research as well as something on visual methodologies so will try and make some link to them somehow.