Evaluation plays an important role in determining Festival attendee satisfaction
Apr 14, 2017 | Atlanta, GA
On March 25th, 2017, crowds filled Centennial Olympic Park to attend Atlanta Science Festival’s ultimate event: the Science Festival Expo.
The Expo attracted thousands of Georgians and hosted hundreds of local universities, businesses, and science organizations, bringing them all together for the Atlanta’s largest science celebration.
Working their way through the crowds, members of the Center for Education Integrating Science, Mathematics, and Computing (CEISMC) Evaluation Team collected interview data from attendees. Using big microphones to set a fun and official tone, evaluators spent hours talking to children and adults about their experiences at the event. Evaluators asked children what new things they learned at the Festival, and if the children helped a scientist do hands-on science experiments. Team members asked adults what they thought the most valuable aspect of the Festival was, and how the adults saw the Festival as contributing to the Atlanta community. Attendees, especially children, were very excited to give feedback to the Evaluation Team.
In collaboration with an NSF-funded national coalition of Science Festival evaluators, EvalFest, the CEISMC Evaluation Team developed and administered both Spanish and English surveys on iPads to Expo attendees. The attendee surveys aimed to collect demographic data from attendees to assess a main Festival goal of reaching people all across Georgia. Additionally, the surveys sought to capture the degrees of satisfaction, fun, and learning that Festival attendees experienced. One of the special benefits in collaborating with EvalFest, is that the Atlanta Science Festival can compare data and communicate with twenty-four festivals across the country. This alliance continues to emphasize the connection between the nation’s science festivals.
The evaluation effort was spearheaded by the CEISMC Associate Director for Educational Research & Evaluation Meltem Alemdar and Outreach Coordinator Olivia Shellman. A unique method used by the team at the suggestion of Hayley McLeod, involved handing out stickers that read, “I’m a data point!” to every attendee who provided feedback, either through an iPad survey or an interview. The stickers both delighted attendees and provided Evaluators with an easy way to assess visually if an attendee had already given feedback to another evaluator. “The sticker method was a hit with the EvalFest team,” says Shellman. “Now stickers just like it are used across the nation at other science festivals.”
The Evaluation Team consists of Meltem Alemdar, Olivia Shellman, Shaheen Rana, Jeremy Lingle, Anna Holcomb, Christopher Cappelli, Dr. Jessica Gale, and Dr. Sunni Newton. CEISMC student assistants Jeanette Lopez and Cole Wright, helped out as well, in addition to Emily Beck, Corinne Crofford, and Benjamin Patrick.
“The Evaluation Team is proud and excited to foster its relationship with the Atlanta Science Festival,” says Shellman. “We hope to continue to represent Georgia Tech in the broader Atlanta and national science communities.”