Skip to main content

Visitor Studies Association Conference 2016

Visitor Studies Association VSA logo


Boston, MA

About the Conference

The conference will include several professional development sessions related to NISE Network projects.

Theme: The Data Revolution

More information:

Sessions related to NISE Network projects

Tuesday, July 19 Workshop (6:00 - 8:00 p.m.)
Planning for Project Success in a Complex Adaptive System: Approaches, Applications, and Resources from the CASNET Project

Elizabeth Kunz Kollmann, Museum of Science, Marjorie Bequette, Science Museum of Minnesota, & Chris Cardiel, Oregon Museum of Science & Industry

This workshop will focus on the application of complexity and systems thinking to the planning and implementation of evaluation capacity building (ECB) initiatives and on sharing relevant resources and strategies with researchers, evaluators, and other interested professionals. Participants will join facilitators for an interactive exploration of approaches, frameworks, and real-world applications relating to the development and implementation of ECB initiatives within complex systems of various scales. Workshop goals will be accomplished through (a) expert presentations regarding tools and approaches for understanding ECB with complexity in mind, (b) small group discussion and collaborative analysis of real data using a complexity coding scheme, and (c) large group discussion and sharing of resources outlining complexity characteristics which support or constrain ECB and strategies for planning effective and contextually-responsive initiatives. Participants will leave the workshop feeling better equipped to address the challenges and capitalize on the opportunities of planning for ECB within complex systems.

Thursday, July 21 - Concurrent Session - I
Innovative Continuity: Extending and Adapting Evaluation as a Project Changes

Katie Todd, Smirla Ramos-Montanez

During periods of project transition, evaluators can often reassess their approach. A multi-institutional evaluation team will share benefits and challenges of continuing prior practices, improving existing methods, and testing new innovations. Presentations and small-group discussions will follow a worksheet that participants can use to weigh evaluation options during project change.


Thursday, July 21 - Paper Session
How Data Changed NISE Net's Programming Efforts

Marta Beyer

Data collected mid-way through the NISE Network revealed that museum professionals were not making full use of resources raising societal and ethical implications of nanotechnology. Come hear how these findings led to changes in the types of materials and PD opportunities offered and the types of gains professionals ultimately reported.


Thursday, July 21 - Paper Session
Perspectives on Professional Growth, Impacts, and Organizational Change

Juli Goss, Joe E. Heimlich, Marta Beyer, Leigh Ann Mesiti

Museum professionals drive institutions forward, but what do we know about how to impact their work? Come hear how recent research and evaluation from NISE Net and a national, collaborative research project on professional development can shed light on this area and suggest new steps to consider. 


Friday, July 22 - Concurrent Session - IV
How Audiences Find Relevance: Research Methods and Findings in Two Innovative Exhibitions

Alice Anderson, Maggie Ryan Sandford, Gretchen Haupt, Allison Cosbey

Comparing research/evaluation of two museum exhibitions, each examining how family groups discuss content in relation to their lives. Take-aways include best practices for reflective interviewing, analyzing extensive data sets, developing coding schemes, intentionality in exhibit design, as well as discussion of findings, and lessons learned via emergent challenges.

About VSA

The Visitor Studies Association (VSA) seeks to foster a sense of community among its members, who gather once a year to pose intriguing questions, explore diverse opinions, debate controversial issues, challenge assumptions and share their successes and their struggles—in essence, to learn from one another.

The Visitor Studies Association (VSA) is a membership organization dedicated to understanding and enhancing learning experiences in informal settings through research, evaluation, and dialogue. We offer an array of services designed to foster evidence-based practice, including an annual conference, professional development workshops, and the peer-reviewed journal Visitor Studies. Through these and other activities, we help researchers, practitioners, policy-makers, organizational leaders, and funders advance the field of informal learning.