Research

The Research Group at the Lawrence Hall of Science delivers a full spectrum of services to provide evidence and insights that foster high-quality, innovative learning experiences in science and mathematics that are equitable, inclusive, and culturally relevant.

We provide independent research services. In addition, we partner on national initiatives that support the development and implementation of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) learning opportunities for both formal and informal education needs.

The Research Group

Our primary research goal is to generate findings that can help promote powerful learning opportunities for all students in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM). 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 that are both relevant and useful to educators, policy-makers, and researchers. We explicitly connect research findings with implications for each of these fields.

Expertise

Our interdisciplinary research team comprises learning scientists, policy researchers, sociologists, psychologists, anthropologists, political scientists, evaluators, and methodologists. Together, we have amassed considerable 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 faculty and researchers at the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Education, as well as with colleagues in regional and national organizations.

Projects and Services

Our research projects are multifaceted and are conducted in all settings in which STEM learning can take 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 stand ready to engage in rapid research efforts to support clients’ immediate needs for information or study results.

Reports and Presentations

Our researchers are highly skilled at presenting findings and insights before diverse audiences. At the Research Group, we tailor our research dissemination efforts to suit each project’s type and needs. We choose from a variety of dissemination options, including: reports (formal research reports, web-based reports, legislative reports, and the like); publications (peer-reviewed journals, educator venues, and others); 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 those of the American Educational Research Association, the American Evaluation Association, the Association of Science-Technology Centers, the National Association of Research in Science Teaching, the National Science Teachers Association, and the Visitor Studies Association.

Funding

Our research is funded by multiple sources, including federal grants, private foundations, and private and public clients, as well as Lawrence Hall of Science programs. The cost of our client-based research services varies, depending on each project’s scale and scope. We work closely with project leadership to develop a scope and a budget that meet their needs.

Evaluation

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 that 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 San Francisco 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 developing as well as sustaining successful programs, devising proposals to fund and develop new programs, and improving or scaling established programs. Our client experiences have enabled our evaluation work to play a vital role in numerous efforts toward educational innovation and change.

To promote the utility of our work, we embrace an educative perspective in performing evaluations. We use collaborative approaches to encourage client and stakeholder participation in the program evaluation and the application of findings. Our educative, participatory approach can be an important part of a program’s intent to foster its own capacity for internal evaluation.

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, our proposed designs (which may include mixed-method, quasi-experimental, or case study formats) employ one or more of the following data collection methods:
    • Interview
    • Observation
    • Survey
    • Document analysis
  • Panel Review—Leveraging the knowledge and expertise of internal as well as 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, the sponsor, and the stakeholders, we produce a variety of report types that ultimately promote the effective use of evaluation findings. Reporting styles include full technical reports, briefing memoranda, visual software presentations, research literature reviews, and policy briefs, among others.

Our Work

Our evaluation services have been implemented across numerous settings and levels of STEM education. Our current and recent evaluation work consists of:

  • Full Option Science System (FOSS) Leadership Academy, a partnership with Wested/K–12 Alliance to build science leadership among California elementary school 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

Funding

Our evaluation projects are funded by numerous sources, including federal grants, private foundations, private and public organizations, and even programs within the Lawrence Hall of Science itself. The pricing of our evaluation services varies in relation to the scope of work. We consult intensively with our clients to develop a plan that will best address the purpose and budget for the evaluation.

Assessment

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. Our services may include any or all of the following:

  • Designing assessment systems and support materials
  • Scoring a system design with exemplar identification
  • Developing items and scaling them
  • Scanning/scoring fixed-choice responses
  • Scoring constructed responses
  • Gathering and evaluating validity evidence (testing construct validity)
  • Performing data analysis and supplying suitable psychometrics
  • Reporting out

Our Work

The following highlights our current work:

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 entire school districts, as well as in developing projects to improve instructional materials.

Expertise

Our approach involves a principled assessment design, which focuses on making 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 developing, implementing, and analyzing assessments that assess the breadth and depth of students’ knowledge, skills, and dispositions. Our staff has garnered experience at all levels of education from K through grade 16, in numerous types of learning environments, and with students and teachers at all levels. We are experienced in the assessment of both issue-oriented science and the integrated instruction of science and literacy.

Funding

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.

Science Learning Activation Lab

The Lawrence Hall of Science is a key partner in the Science Learning Activation Lab—a national research and design effort focused on dramatically strengthening science learning throughout the United States.

Our Team

Members of our team have considerable experience and expertise in both qualitative and quantitative research methods and have amassed deep content knowledge in science and mathematics.

Our Work

Sunstones at The Lawrence
Our Work

Reflecting on Practice™ (RoP)

RoP is a professional learning program designed for adoption by informal science learning environments so that all educators in an […]

Children playing on the DNA sculpture at the Lawrence
Our Work

Positioning Youth for Success in Science: Studying the Malleability and Impact of Computational Thinking for Science

In collaboration with the Learning Design Group at the Lawrence Hall of Science, the Research Group is engaging in a […]

Two children and a staff member are working together during a science activity.
Our Work

Working Towards Equitable Organizations in Environmental Education

Working Towards Equitable Organizations Workshop Series is a collaboration between the Lawrence Hall of Science and an organization called Youth […]

The Lawrence Hall of Science
Our Work

FIRST

For Inspiration and Recognition of Science & Technology (FIRST®) is a national and international nonprofit organization that seeks to support […]

Children playing on Pheena the Whale
Our Work

Activation Lab

The Learning Activation Lab is a national research and design effort to dramatically strengthen learning in the United States and […]

Students in front of The Lawrence
Our Work

BEETLES

Better Environmental Education Teaching, Learning, Expertise & Sharing (BEETLES) is a program affiliated with the Lawrence Hall of Science that […]

A young person looks through a telescope of the view at The Lawrence.
Our Work

Schoolyard Scientists/East Bay Academy for Young Scientists

Based at the Lawrence Hall of Science at UC Berkeley, the East Bay Academy for Young Scientists (EBAYS) serves youth […]

Get In Touch

Have questions about the work that we do? We’d love to speak to you.