In my work I specialize in evaluation of informal learning, exhibits and programs for young children and families, museum-school partnerships and environmental education programs. While I use mixed methods, my strength is in qualitative approaches, particularly with children. I lead workshops on collecting data from children and developing exhibits for young children. My research area of interest is the adult child interaction in museum settings of families with younger children.
Specialties: Young children and families, qualitative research and evaluation methods.
Growing up I spent all of my summers at The Thousand Islands in upstate New York. I played outside (usually barefoot) all day, swam, played for hours at the playground on the jungle gym, swinging on the maypole, playing tether ball. I acted in the summer library children’s productions, ate snacks at The Guzzle, a corner soda shop. It was pretty idyllic. Summers at Thousand Islands were a family tradition dating back to my mother’s childhood. All of the cottages were named by the families who lived in them. My mother’s cottage was called Ever-Greene for her family name “Greene.” I have always treasured this picture of my mom, her sister and her parents sitting on the front porch of their cottage, Evergreene, in 1920. My mom would have been about 4 and her sister 8.
When I had the opportunity to start my own business I wanted to remember my family and all the wonderful opportunities they gave me growing up. Sadly both of my parents were deceased by the time I was only 30. In memory of them and in remembrance of my many happy summers on Thousand Islands, I named my business Evergreene. I hope I’ve made them proud.
My approach to working with clients is about building a strong collaborative relationship. I enjoy meeting and working with all kinds of museum professionals that have a variety of working styles. What distinguishes me from my peers may have best been captured by a client who said of working with me “you don’t give me a headache.” I took that to mean that although I have the qualifications of an academic I know how to speak to museum professionals in ways that they can understand. I speak their language. I have walked in their shoes before. I have also been a teacher and moved between museums and classrooms so I am able to bridge that “cultural” gap as well.
I believe that effective evaluation begins with clear and concise program or exhibit goals that can in fact be evaluated. How the client will ultimately use the evaluation should help determine the design of the study. In other words, does the client need to justify results to a funder or is the client trying to make improvements to an existing program or exhibit?
The needs of the study, and the research question should determine whether qualitative or quantitative methods are called for. I believe most studies will benefit from a mixed method approach. I can assemble a team of data collectors, data analysts, transcriptionists, and report editors as the project budget allows.
A project/client relationship is most effective when both parties have similar expectations for the project and agree on how they will work together. Will there be regular phone meetings; e-mail; conference calls? What is the expectation for deliverables, deadlines, etc? Communication is key to a good working relationship and so every evaluation study must begin with a collaboratively developed evaluation plan.