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Visitor Studies Association Conference 2017

Visitor Studies Association VSA logo


Columbus, OH

The Visitor Studies Association (VSA) seeks proposals for session presentations and workshops for the 2017 conference in Columbus, OH July 18-22. 

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.

This year's theme, New Pathways in Visitor Studies, we invite conference attendees to look both within and beyond our field for new ways to think about learning, as well as promising approaches to solving current problems. The conference theme seeks to advance the field by challenging conference speakers and attendees to work creatively and collaboratively to deliver reliable new insights about the experiences of our visitors. Participants are strongly encouraged to create session proposals that invite and include people from outside the visitor studies field to stimulate conversation and discussion.

More information:

NISE Network project related sessions:


Friday, July 21, 2017, 10:15am - 11:30am

The Social Side of STEM: Evaluating SciCafes and Public Forums
Jennifer Borland, Elizabeth Kunz Kollmann, Chris Cadenhead, Kathryn Rende

This presentation explores SciCafes and other live, informal events where public audiences hear from and interact with scientists and have socialization opportunities. Panelists representing multiple institutions will discuss evaluative methodologies and impacts of these programs on participants' understanding of science, motivations to learn more, and resulting behavioral changes.


Thursday, July 20, 2017, 10:15am - 11:30am

Multi-Site Evaluations: Evaluation Capacity Building and Mutually Beneficial Partnerships
Gretchen Haupt, Sarah Cohn, Jen Gathings, Ryan Auster

Multi-Site evaluations are typically designed to best serve the needs of the individual or organization leading the evaluation; this session will offer examples of mutually beneficial evaluations that focus on building evaluation capacity at participating sites by training local staff and volunteers to assist with data collection.


Friday, July 21, 2017, 1:15pm - 2:30pm

Collaboration as Process, Collaboration as Product—Navigating and Embracing Complexity
Jim Kisiel, Cecilia Garibay, Marjorie Bequette, Rich Pennington

Although messy and unpredictable, partnerships are critical for developing inclusive practices and building institutional capacity. Here, we describe several cases involving community collaborations, viewed as either a means (data-collection method) or end (project outcome), leading to an audience-driven discussion involving shifting evaluator roles, collaboration frameworks and lessons learned.