ERIC Number: ED196770
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 1978
Reference Count: N/A
A Preliminary Guide for Conducting Naturalistic Evaluation in Studying Museum Environment.
Wolf, Robert L.; Tymitz, Barbara L.
This document presents guidelines for use by museum staff members as they evaluate their institutional capabilities and programs. Guidelines are based on a new evaluation perspective--naturalistic evaluation--which can help museum staff assess their programs in a more interpretative, less judgmental way. Naturalistic evaluation is characterized by concern with spontaneous activities rather than pre-stated and/or overly formal objectives, ability to respond to staff and audience requirements for different kinds of information, recognition that different values and perspectives are equally valid, stress on wide-ranging implications, participation by a wide range of people who are to be served by the study, and orientation toward a search for meaning of an entire experience such as a museum visit. Interview strategies include directing the interviewer to get a flavor of as much of the system as possible, identify problems that influence the situation under investigation, and select problems that seem the most likely to provide vital evidence. Particularly useful types of data include descriptive data about settings, accurate descriptions of visitor actions and behaviors, direct quotes, clues to past museum policies on various types of exhibits, and observation of wear-spots on carpet near exhibits. Interviewers are particularly good at naturalistic evaluation if they are unafraid of new situations, curious, unobtrusive, good listeners, and relatively value-free with respect to the situation under study. Interviewers can work toward mastering naturalistic evaluation procedures if they perform self-training exercises such as memory tests, mini-observations, mock informant interviews, and debriefing reports. (DB)
Publication Type: Guides - Non-Classroom
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC. Office of Museum Programs.