WestEd: Learning Studios Program Evaluation

External Evaluation of Learning Studios Project: Final Report. (2014). WestEd.

This report from WestEd is the third year summary program evaluation which features a logic model/process map, as well as charts and findings from annual teacher survey and a student retrospective survey. Evaluators complemented the teacher survey with a new student survey to deepen understanding of the project. The teacher survey elicited information from most of the project teachers, i.e., a majority of participants who attended the last one-day, NCTAF design session of the school year (87% of 106 session participants). The pilot student survey elicited views from 372 students in 16 teachers’ classes in which the most and best implementation of the main teaching foci of the LS Project was occurring. Both surveys continued the annual focus on the three main LS Project emphases: Increasing project-based learning, making cross-subject connections, and involving workforce partners (typically scientists and engineers).

The external evaluation data indicate that the LS Program succeeded in advancing both teaching as well as student work and learning, with respect to the three core and other LS Program strategies: Rare, authentic cross-subject projects; Better project-based learning; Stronger workforce partner roles. These successes have made it possible for teachers and students to do projects that were more authentic not only in being real-world, but also in more earnestly addressing students’ interests. Correspondingly, the model also fostered students having more responsibility for decisions in the design and execution of investigations. The above successful implementations of LS Program core strategies resulted in some notable student outcomes. Students reported that doing the project increased their abilities with 13 tasks in scientific investigations. Students also reported that the LS Program made their general views of STEM more positive, and increased their interest in pursuing STEM after high school. All of these increases were strongly statistically significant at p < 0.001.