REA has a strong reputation for providing evaluation services for programs focusing on social studies and history learning. Our evaluations have investigated program outcomes ranging from students’ academic achievement and non-cognitive skills, to teachers’ usage and implementation of online and museum-based resources. Please explore examples of our history and social studies evaluation projects below.
Selected Projects Include
National History Day
REA conducted a year-long evaluation of the National History Day (NHD) program, which serves more than half a million students annually. A diverse group of 500 students in four states in the NHD and comparison-group reported that the NHD program helped them to acquire critical thinking and communication skills, a mature understanding of past and current events, and college-level research skills. NHD students also outperformed their peers on statewide standardized assessments.
American Museum of Natural History “Traveling the Silk Road”
Rockman et al faciliated a collaborative evaluation with staff at the American Museum of Natural History for the exhibition: “Traveling the Silk Road: Ancient Pathway to the Modern World.” This evaluation explored visitors’ interest in and understanding of the exhibition and related programming and sought to integrate museum staff and volunteers throughout the process of instrument development, data collection, analysis, and reporting. The collaborative, cross-departmental evaluation effort utimately yielded greater understanding and buy-in for evaluation findings and identified meaningful outcomes, such as connections between special programming and subsequent visitor engagement and learning.
Clark Let’s Do History Program and Smithsonian Institute 3D Resource Pilot
In this two-part study, Rockman et al (REA) evaluated outcomes of the Smithsonian Institute’s ongoing Let’s Do History teacher training program and an educational iBook which incorporates 3D technology in an interdisciplinary exploration of Abraham Lincoln and his era in history. REA gathered feedback on the Let’s Do History program from teachers who attended the training and students experiencing their teaching techniques in the classroom. REA’s evaluation provided information on how the Smithsonian Institute can combine 3D technology with their considerable artifact collection to bring history to life.
A. James Clark Excellence in History Teaching Program
Rockman et al conducted a study for The Smithsonian National Museum of American History (NMAH) Excellence in History Teaching Program, a two-part program including Teach It Forward, (held at NMAH for teachers in the D.C. Maryland, and Virginia area), and Let’s Do History, (for teachers around the country). The two programs provided professional development for over 3,000 teachers, introducing object- and primary source-based instructional strategies, the Smithsonian’s rich array of resources, and ways teachers could use these to kindle an interest in history among K-12 students. REA explored teachers’ usage of project resources, classroom implementation of new strategies for teaching history, district-level curriculum and instruction changes, and changes in students’ interest in history and historical thinking, using surveys, interviews, case studies, and online activities.
Evaluation of Oceana: An Online Civics and Democracy Game
Rockman et al worked with the Indiana University Center on Congress to evaluate Oceana, an online game designed to introduce middle school students to concepts related to civic engagement. The evaluation effort included a week of beta-testing with 80 6th-8th grade students at a charter school in Bloomington, Indiana.