Our mission is to drive marine conservation through engagement, however, if we do not evaluate our customers engagement with our exhibits and conservation messages, then the work we do is essentially self indulgent as we would have no proof that we are delivering our mission. It is not robust enough to say ‘everyone left with a smile on their face’.
The National Marine Aquarium has placed great importance on evaluation for many years. We are among the leaders in the industry for the quality and quantity of evaluation that is undertaken for all Aquarium operations. Our staff have given talks and training sessions at conferences and seminars, contributed to academic papers and been paid consultancy fees for our evaluation expertise.
An evaluation framework entitled ‘Inspiring Learning for All’ is employed. This framework can be used to assess the participants of our School and Public Engagement programmes for a variety of learning outcomes that can be linked to biodiversity:
- Knowledge and understanding
- Attitude and values
- Enjoyment, inspiration and creativity
- Activity, behaviour and progression
We have data pertaining to our Schools Programme going back for 8 years and we are currently focusing on continuing to build and implement evaluation of public engagement activities and further developing public evaluation to devise activities which more completely address the Aquarium’s mission statement. We will also continue to evaluate new exhibits and spaces; to reveal both the most appropriate educational focus, and the success of communicating that message.
Of course we also ensure that visitor satisfaction is also evaluated. This ensures that our customers are happy and more likely to recommend us!