Research and Evaluation

We conduct front-end, formative, remedial, and summative evaluation on learning experiences and spaces. We develop customized methodologies and instruments in response to project goals and staff capacity.

United States Botanic Garden

What did we do?

For the United States Botanic Garden, we directed the evaluation effort for the Garden’s volunteer training program.

We developed an evaluation framework and methodology, as well as original instruments, including focus group guides and two different surveys. In addition, we conducted a horizon scan involving five cultural organizations to identify best practices in volunteer training. Finally, we researched and developed an adult learning brief to share best practices in the field.

The final report featured analysis and research-based recommendations and will be shared with the national garden community at upcoming conferences.

Art Institute Ryan Learning Center

What did we do?

For the Art Institute of Chicago, we led the evaluation of the redesign of the Ryan Learning Center, the focus of which was inclusion and accessibility. We designed a wide range of formative testing methods to investigate and inform design directions and led prototyping of new interactive experiences.

The newly redesigned Center was scheduled to open in 2020 and now (due to COVID) will open in the fall of 2021.

Left to right: interactive formative evaluation output; prototyping set-up


Art Institute of Chicago Museum 3D

What did we do?

For the Art Institute of Chicago, we led the evaluation of Museum3D, an IMLS-funded experiment in public programs and 3D printing. We designed a range of instruments to collect data across five distinct program types, with the goal of evaluating the potential impact of 3D technologies on audience engagement with museum collections. Findings provided guidelines for museums of different types with varied resources to meaningfully incorporate these technologies in programming. We co-presented the evaluation summary at Museums and the Web.

Museum 3D program in action (Photo credit: Art Institute of Chicago)



Chicago Architecture Center

What did we do?

Chicago Architecture Center Gallery (Photo credit: CAC)

For the Chicago Architecture Center, we conducted remedial evaluation on select galleries in the new Center. We utilized observation and survey methodologies to assess the visitor experience.

Research-based recommendations informed new directions for content and design.


Bahá’í House of Worship

What did we do?

For the Bahá’í House of Worship, we conducted front-end and formative evaluation on exhibit elements for a new Visitor Welcome Center. We led focus groups and prototyping exercises and also designed a series of surveys. Evaluation data informed the interpretive plan and exhibition layout and content.

Exhibit galleries at the Bahá’í House of Worship Welcome Center. (Photo credit: Peter Hyde Design)


Chicago Community Trust

What did we do?

For the Chicago Community Trust, we led the summative evaluation of five years of grant-making for Hive Chicago (now called Chicago Learning Exchange). We developed key metrics in collaboration with the Executive Director and Program Manager, analyzed cycles of grantee reports, and published a report of findings and recommendations.