Our Research

Krannert Art Museum

With Krannert Art Museum, we are serving as external evaluators with our university community partners on a project to understand visitor population and engagement for their art exhibits, especially the recently installed Andes exhibit. Our initial work involved an evaluation course project which created an evaluation design report and protocols with our KAM stakeholders, and we are now further collaborating to assist in the execution of the evaluation. Our goals of the project are to understand levels and frequency of engagement and participation in the various Krannert Art Museum spaces and assist our colleagues with a more robust understanding of who visits their museum exhibits, when, and why.

OKSU Spotty Rain

National Science Foundation

We are working on an external evaluation of the NSF-funded Innovations in Development project, Spotty Rain Campaign: Enhancing the Capacity for Rural Libraries to Engage the Public in Drought Monitoring, faculty at Oklahoma State University, Nicole Colston and Tutaleni Asino. This project focuses on the design, development, and evaluation of informal science education (ISE) programs and educational media for use in rural libraries in drought prone areas of the Great Plains. The project innovation is to advance a model that contextualizes ISE within relevant community problems (i.e. drought) and incorporates citizen science practices and processes into library programs. The project strengthens and builds capacity for librarians to engage their communities in citizen science by offering professional development opportunities, as well as relevant and usable library programming materials. Increased participation will expand national citizen science networks (i.e. CoCoRaHS), as well as improve the capacity for scientists to better predict where and when devastating droughts will occur.


National Science Foundation

Members of the evaluation lab serve as the external evaluators for the Center for Power Optimization of Electro-Thermal Systems (POETS), an NSF-funded engineering research center headquartered at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. POETS aims to “enhance or increase the overall power density available in tightly constrained mobile environments by changing the approach to their design and operation” (Engineering Research Centers, 2019). POETS offers a variety of educational initiatives with the overall goals of (a) increasing STEM literacy, (b) bolstering the STEM P-20 pipeline, and (c) broaden the participation of students from populations that are underrepresented in STEM.

SEAS Islands Alliance

National Science Foundation

NSF SEAS Islands Alliance is a collaborative project aiming to increase islanders’ participation in marine sciences and STEM. SEAS Islands supports middle and high school students, undergraduate and graduate-level learners, and workforce fellows by connecting participants across three island contexts (including a Micronesian hub located in Guam and two Caribbean hubs—one in Puerto Rico and one in the U.S. Virgin Islands). The research team includes a collective team from UIUC and WestEd and cultural liaison researchers who make visible islander participation. In the Alliance, the research team investigates students’ ways of knowing science and the impacts of the SEAS Islands Alliance programming on students’ cultural and STEM identity development and sense of belonging.

Truth, Racial Healing and Transformation

W.K. Kellogg Foundation

As a member of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation’s Truth, Racial Healing and Transformation (TRHT) national evaluation team, led by Decision Information Resources (DIR), we recently completed exploratory environmental scans of select TRHT (Dallas, TX and Kalamazoo, MI) sites to garner a better understanding of the organizations that are aligned with the TRHT framework, as well as those potentially in tension with the framework. In the 2021-2022 academic year, our work on the national evaluation team is ongoing.

Past Projects


National Science Foundation

We are working on an exploratory community of the evaluation practice concept, Factors Driving Sustainable Intergenerational Broadening Participation (BP) Programs in STEM, that builds on the recent NSF workshops and efforts toward recognizing effective broadening participation through cultural and institutional change, most recently promoted through a series of recommendations from the Committee on Equal Opportunities in Science and Engineering (CEOSE).  Additionally, the practice concept leverages the institutional and systemic change underway in the evaluation community around building diversity and inclusion efforts through the American Evaluation Association (AEA) Graduate Diversity Internship (GEDI) Program. Y1 efforts focused on building a peer and grey literature review and Y2 efforts include a GEDI STEM summit of GEDI alumni to leverage existing NSF and other external funding.


National Science Foundation

We worked on an external evaluation of the NSF-funded project to Using Interactive Online Labs (IOLab) to provide Investigative Science Learning Environment (ISLE)-style labs at scale, headed by Professors Mats Selen and Tim Stelzer (Physics). Over the course of the project, all the algebra-based and calculus-based introductory physics labs at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign are being changed to use the IOLab system, a new microcomputer-based laboratory exercise system that allows students to collect and analyze data in real time while exploring the effects of this new lab style on student outcomes and experiences. Data collected in previous studies (2017-2019) of this innovative approach to hands-on, problem solving labs have indicated that, compared to students in traditional lab groups, students in the experimental IOLab groups demonstrated higher understanding of lab content and higher test results, even though they spent less time on the labs.


National Science Foundation

During 2021, a team of us worked as external evaluators for the Northern Ohio AGEP Alliance (NOA-AGEP). NOA-AGEP was part of the National Science Foundation’s Alliances for Graduate Education and the Professoriate (NSF AGEP) program and was committed to the development, implementation, and study of a model to improve underrepresented minority student participation and success in STEM graduate education as well as to prepare them for the professoriate. Seven universities participated in NOA-AGEP for its duration. Our evaluation efforts focused on understanding student experiences in the program as well as understanding the perspectives of key program leadership, faculty, and staff on the program and its implementation.  During the Y6 evaluation, we administered surveys and interviews/focus groups with student and PI participants and our findings suggest that NOA-AGEP supported participant graduate students in completion of their degrees, and further resources and work is needed to make this program, and others, sustainable.

STEM Illinois

Chancellor’s Office

We are working with a team of UIUC researchers and faculty Ruby Mendenhall (Sociology/Carle Medical) and William Patterson (Siebel Design)  to serve as evaluators of the STEM Illinois, a remodel of STEM NOLA initiative headed by Dr. Calvin Mackie. STEM Illinois is a community-based program targeting underrepresented K-12 students in the Champaign-Urbana community. The project will provide insights into a model of STEM learning to investigate issues of equity, accessibility and broadening participation. As evaluators we will be responsible for creating an evaluation logic model that measures the program’s effectiveness in using STEM to increase the cultural wealth of underrepresented students by introducing them to the concepts of STEM and applying it to their interest.