LEAP into Science: Year 3 Evaluation Report
In October 2007, The Franklin Institute Science Museum (FI) in partnership with the Free Library of Philadelphia was awarded a 5-year National Science Foundation grant to build a model museum/library partnership. This partnership project, called LEAP into Science, integrates science content and inquiry into an existing afterschool program at the Library, called LEAP. More specifically, LEAP into Science has three overarching goals: 1) To increase the capacity of influential adults for science teaching and learning; 2) To increase the capacity of libraries for science teaching and learning; 3) To understand the ways in which science and literacy can be connected in order to promote family engagement in both of these areas. The Institute for Learning Innovation (ILI) is providing comprehensive evaluation and research services in support of LEAP into Science. This report describes evaluation results from Year 3 of the project, and answers the following questions: 1.Who participated in Leap into Science this year, and what was the nature of their participation?; 2. How were Leap into Science enrichment sessions implemented by LEAP staff this year?; 3. What impacts has Leap into Science had on participating LEAP staff and librarians? Multiple methods were used to assess LEAP into Science participation, implementation, and impacts, including analysis of participation records, focused observations, an online questionnaire, and focus group discussion. Overall, study results point to a successful program year with sustained program participation and meaningful impacts on individual participants. Findings will inform refinements to the program as it continues in Philadelphia, and as it is expanded nationally to ten sites across the country.At an institutional level, 38 of the 52 library branches in Philadelphia were involved in LEAP into Science during this program year. At an individual level, 28 LEAP staff participated in the program, including 17 ASLs and 11 ALs. More than half were new to the program this year. To assess program impacts on participating ASLs and ALs, a quasi-experimental, treatment control design was used with retrospective pre- and post-program measures for the treatment group. Measures were grounded in existing scales from the literature, and included interest in science (general interest, Moore & Foy, 1997; leisure interest, Fraser, 1981) and beliefs about facilitating science learning (enjoyment of science teaching, adapted from Fraser, 1981; science teaching efficacy beliefs, adapted from Bleicher, 2004; and teaching science as inquiry, adapted from Smolleck, 2004). In addition, ILI researchers measured facilitators' use of science facilitation strategies during the year. Data show that participation in LEAP into Science had several significant impacts on after-school leaders, including significant increases in their interest in science, their enjoyment of teaching science, their self-efficacy related to teaching science, and their perception that they teach science as inquiry. In addition, program participation positively influenced how after-school leaders reportedly facilitated science learning. ASLs and ALs in LEAP into Science were more likely after their program participation to say they incorporate science into their lessons, as well as encourage children to ask questions and encourage them to make predictions and test their assumptions. The appendix of this report includes the observation protocol, online questionnaire, and focus group protocol used in the study.