Research, Evaluation, & Assessment
The Research Group
The Research Group at the Lawrence Hall of Science delivers a full spectrum of services to provide evidence and insights that foster high-quality, equitable, and innovative science and mathematics learning experiences.
We provide independent research services and partner on national initiatives to support the development and implementation of innovative Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) learning opportunities for both formal and informal education needs.
Comprehensive applied research; rapid research studies; research to inform program design.
Full-service evaluation; tailored evaluation services; customized evaluation tool kits; convening expert peer or scientific review.
Design, development, scoring, and validation of specialized and curriculum-aligned assessment.
Studies of education policy and implementation; policy briefs; presentations to decision and policy makers; customized convenings and symposia.
We are proud of the many projects we've completed over the years for clients across the country, including our study of the status of science education in Bay Area elementary schools.
We have extensive experience and expertise in qualitative and quantitative research methods and deep content knowledge in science and mathematics.
The Lawrence Hall of Science is a key partner in the Science Learning Activation Lab—a national research and design effort to dramatically strengthen science learning in the United States.
Our primary research goal is to generate findings that can help promote powerful learning opportunities in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) for all students. We emphasize research that focuses on understanding innovations in STEM fields, especially those that aim to reach historically underserved and underrepresented populations. Our work yields evidence and insights relevant and useful to educators, policy makers, and researchers. We explicitly connect research findings with implications for each of these fields.
Our interdisciplinary research team includes learning scientists, policy researchers, sociologists, psychologists, anthropologists, political scientists, evaluators, and methodologists. We have extensive experience and expertise in qualitative and quantitative research methods as well as deep content knowledge in STEM. At times, we augment our expertise by partnering with the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Education faculty and researchers, as well as colleagues from regional and national organizations.
Projects and Services
Our research projects are multifaceted and take place across all settings in which STEM learning takes place. Among our research projects:
- The Science Learning Activation Lab
- PEEPs for PD: Project Evaluation Effectiveness Principles for Professional Development in Elementary Science Teaching
- The Strengthening Science Education in California Initiative
- Promising Practices for Teaching Algebra: Successful teachers of African-American and Latino students
- The Nature of Visitor Inquiry at Science Center Exhibits
- Studies of instructional materials implementation and professional development (in- and out-of-school)
In addition to our extended research projects, we engage in rapid research efforts to support clients' immediate information and research needs.
Reports and Presentations
Our researchers are skilled at presenting findings and insights to various and diverse audiences. The Research Group tailors research dissemination efforts to suit the project type and needs. We choose from a variety of dissemination options including: reports (formal research reports, web-based reports, legislative reports, etc.); publications (peer-reviewed journals, educator venues, etc.); research and policy briefs; and presentations to various stakeholders. We often present to project participants, leaders and developers, organizational boards, and policy-making bodies. We also present at national, state, and regional conferences such as the American Educational Research Association, American Evaluation Association, Association of Science-Technology Centers, National Association of Research in Science Teaching, National Science Teachers Association, and Visitor Studies Association.
Research is funded by multiple sources including federal grants, private foundations, private and public clients, and Lawrence Hall of Science programs. The cost of our client-based research services varies depending on the scale and scope of the project. We work closely with project leadership to develop a project scope and budget that meets their needs.
Our experienced evaluation team understands that each Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) educational project or program is unique and requires customized service.
At the Research Group, we strive to provide high-quality products that meet our clients’ specific program needs and deliver useful, evidence-based understanding for evaluative purposes, such as accountability requirements, program improvement, or strategic planning.
For almost a decade, our evaluation team has conducted evaluations across the nation and within the Bay Area with a commitment to serve projects at the intersection of educational equity and STEM content. We continue to play an integral role in the development and success/sustainability of innovative programs, proposals to fund and develop programs, and improving or scaling established programs. Our client experiences have allowed our evaluation work to play an instrumental role in educational innovation and change.
To promote the utility of our work, we embrace an educative perspective in performing evaluation. We use collaborative approaches to encourage client and stakeholder participation in the program evaluation and use of findings. Our educative, participatory approach can be a part of a program’s effort to foster its own internal evaluation capacity.
Our evaluation services include the following methods and products:
- Logic Models — Articulating the underlying program theory, whether it be for action or for change, by visually representing the inherent linkages of program inputs, outputs, and outcomes in the short, medium, or long term.
- Empirical Study Design — Utilizing multiple research methods, modes, and theories to illuminate and assess the nuanced effects and meaning of a program. Depending on the study scope, designs, including mixed-method, quasi-experimental and case study, employ one or more the following data collection methods:
- Document analysis
- Panel Review — Leveraging the knowledge and expertise of internal and/or external stakeholders to verify and inform program trajectory and to validate evaluation findings at strategic points during a program evaluation.
- Technical Reports and Briefs — Attending to the needs of the program, sponsor, and stakeholders, we produce a variety of report types that ultimately promote the use of evaluation findings. Reporting styles include full technical reports, briefing memoranda, PowerPoint presentations, research literature reviews, and policy briefs.
Our evaluation services have been implemented across settings and levels of STEM education. Current and recent evaluation work includes:
- Full Option Science System (FOSS) Leadership Academy, a partnership with Wested/K–12 Alliance to build science leadership in California elementary teachers
- Center for Ocean Sciences Education Excellence California (COSEE-CA)
- FOSS Multimedia
- Kepler Mission Education and Public Outreach
- Project Exploration
- San Francisco Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve
- Science and Math Informal Learning Educators (SMILE), a digital library of STEM activities from various science centers
- Aquarium of the Pacific, museum education exhibits
Our evaluation projects are funded by various sources including federal grants, private foundations, private and public organizations, and programs within the Lawrence Hall of Science. The pricing of our evaluation services varies in relation to the scope of work. We consult with our clients to develop a plan that will address the purpose and budget for the evaluation.
We provide a range of assessment services for various projects and organizations. Our assessment work is multifaceted and specifically designed for the learning setting in which Science, Technology, Education, and Mathematics (STEM) education takes place. The following highlights our services.
- Assessment systems design and support materials
- Scoring system design with exemplar identification
- Item and scale development
- Scanning/scoring of fixed-choice response, i.e., close-ended items
- Scoring of constructed response, i.e., open-ended items
- Gather and evaluate validity evidence, i.e., construct validity
- Data analysis and psychometrics
The following highlights current work:
- Ocean Literacy Survey — Center for Ocean Science
- Excellence-California (COSEE)
- The Science Learning Activation Lab
- BaySci: A Partnership for Bay Area Education
- Advancing Collaboration for Equity in Science (ACES)
- Full Option Science System (FOSS) — grades 2–8
Past projects include the following:
- Seeds of Science/Roots of Reading — grades 2–5
- Science Education for Public Understanding Program (SEPUP)
- Assessing Science Knowledge (ASK) — grades 2–8
- Science Sequences — Space Science Sequence and Ocean Science Sequence — grades 3–8
- We also have been involved in developing assessment materials and systems for many external clients including school districts and instructional materials development projects.
Our approach involves a principled assessment design, which focuses on a match between client measurement needs, the instrument, and the types of questions that should be asked. Our assessment team offers expertise in all aspects of the design and use of subject-matter assessments: item, scale, and test development; classroom implementation; data management and analysis; reporting; and revision of measures. We offer additional expertise in development, implementation and analysis of assessments that measure the breadth and depth of knowledge, skills and dispositions. Our staff has experience at all levels of education from K-16, in numerous types of learning environments, and with students and teachers. We are experienced in the assessment of issue-oriented science and integrated instruction of science and literacy.
Assessment development and research is funded by multiple sources including federal grants, private foundations, private and public clients, and the Lawrence Hall of Science programs. The cost of our client-based assessment services varies depending on the scale and scope of the project. We work closely with project leadership to customize the work scope and budget to meet project needs.
The Research Group provides policy research for educational agencies and nonprofit foundations. Our focus is on science education but encompasses all elements of STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) education. We take a participatory approach to education policy research, using both quantitative and qualitative methods. We have conducted studies ranging in design from exploratory to experimental, and using data collection approaches from large-scale surveys to deep ethnography.
As part of the Lawrence Hall of Science at UC Berkeley, the Research Group has the resources and capacity to study, analyze, and evaluate education policy for local, state, and national governments, as well as for non-governmental organizations. We can help agencies and funding organizations articulate policies, evaluate a portfolio of programs, and understand how the policies they set influence practice on the ground.
We provide nonpartisan information, research, and evaluation on education policy related issues to policymakers and other education stakeholders that supports the making of well-informed decisions. We accomplish these aims by conducting research across a variety of settings and providing evaluation expertise and services to diverse agencies, organizations, and funding agencies. We share important findings through dissemination strategies tailored to the needs of specific audiences and project goals.
Our policy studies team has expertise and experience in many different fields of education policy, including informal science education, professional development in science and technology, youth development policy, and policies surrounding equal access to high-quality and higher education. We employ a diverse set of policy researchers, who bring new ways of thinking about policy and implementation to the Group.
Our Current Projects
Policy studies is a new and rapidly growing field for the Research Group. Among our recent and current projects:
- A large-scale research project looking into the condition of science education in California elementary and middle schools. This project focuses on the policies and structures leading to those conditions, particularly the role of statewide and federal accountability systems.
- Evaluations of multiple support programs designed to encourage students from under-represented groups to enroll and remain in higher education programs in the life sciences.
- As part of the Science Learning Activation Lab, a retrospective study looking at the barriers and supports that youth encounter on their way to becoming scientists.
- Projects that examine the barriers teachers face integrating science with literacy or English Language Development strategies, and what structures and supports help them provide high-quality integration for their students.
Our policy studies work is funded by multiple sources including federal grants and private foundations.
High Hopes — Few Opportunities
The purpose of this 2011 report was to examine the status of science education in California. The research revealed that while educators and members of the public strongly believe that science education is important, it is not a priority in California's elementary schools because of the pressures of existing accountability systems that focus on English language arts and mathematics. The Research Group collaborated with several institutions to conduct this research study.
Funder: S.D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation
The Status of Science Education in Bay Area Elementary Schools
California is home to much US innovation in science and technology. At the same time, the San Francisco Bay Area region produces inadequate achievement results among its students. This research study examines the status of science education in Bay Area elementary schools and offers insights about why students in this region are not performing well in science.
Funder: Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation
Kepler Mission Education and Public Outreach
The Research Group investigates the components of the education and public outreach programs of NASA's Kepler mission, including school curriculum, a planetarium show, and radio broadcasts.
Center for Ocean Sciences Education Excellence (COSEE)—California
The Research Group serves as the independent evaluators for this multifaceted program dedicated to enhancing the general public’s understanding and appreciation of the ocean.
Funder: National Science Foundation
Communicating Ocean Science to Informal Audiences (COSIA)
The Research Group staff serve as the internal evaluator for this NSF-funded project designed to help the next generation of ocean scientists learn how to more effectively communicate their research to the public.
Funder: National Science Foundation
Full Option Science System (FOSS) Multimedia Materials
The Research Group evaluates the multimedia materials that are part of the FOSS curriculum—a hands-on, inquiry-based science curriculum that addresses a variety of science topics.
Funder: Full Option Science System
Project Exploration contracted with the Research Group to undertake a 10-year retrospective study of Project Exploration programming. The review was designed to evaluate the impact of Project Exploration programs in terms of alumni interest and participation in science, and educational and career aspirations and attainment. In particular, the factors that affected students' decisions to get involved, and stay involved with science—and Project Exploration—over time.
Funder: Project Exploration
Please contact us if you have any questions or would like further information.
The Research Group
The Lawrence Hall of Science
University of California, Berkeley
1 Centennial Drive #5200
Berkeley, CA 94720-5200