Museology Master of Arts Program

July 19, 2021

Student experience in the Specialization in Museum Evaluation

Since the start of this specialization in 2010, 114 students have completed the Specialization in Evaluation and completed 36 projects. Previous evaluation studies have explored topics such as: family learning, visitor expectations/satisfaction, visitor behavior and experiences, museum resource utilization, and school group engagement. This year’s 2021 cohort has a record high number of students completing the specialization, with 18 students carrying out 5 projects with museums in the Seattle area.   

This word cloud shows the numerous number of skills our students said they learned throughout the Specialization in Evaluation Certificate program.

To provide some insight into the experiences of our students who are going through and have gone through the Specialization in Evaluation, we asked them the following questions:


Why did you decide to pursue the Specialization in Evaluation?

“I was looking for a way to gain some skills in data collection and analysis… Once I realized it was something unique from research, I stuck with the evaluation specialization mostly because 1) I was increasingly curious and energized about the results of our first year projects and the potential findings of a full year project, and 2) I became more aware of just how valuable evaluation is to the future of the museum field.” –(Class of 2021)

“I decided to pursue a Specialization in Evaluation because I saw the importance of connecting with and listening to visitors. Museums are for the community and I see great value in how evaluation contributes to the relationship building.” –Jess Huynh (she/her; Class of 2021)

“I decided to pursue the Specialization in Evaluation because evaluation is a skill that can be applied to almost every aspect of museum work from education to marketing. At the end of the day people want to see numbers to make big decisions and this class is giving me the skillset to produce meaningful reports.” –Jessica Conway (Class of 2021)

“I value the opportunity evaluation affords to make a positive difference in museum practice and on visitors’ experiences.” –Debbie Ward (Class of 2021)

“After taking the first two courses, I recognized how valuable the skillset could be for my career, within and outside of museums.” –Steffi Morrison (she/her; Class of 2019)

“I loved Angie as an instructor and enjoyed learning more about evaluation and data analysis/visualization!” –Gloria (she/her; Class of 2020) 

“When I entered the Museology program, I did not initially plan to pursue the Specialization in Evaluation. However, I soon discovered that evaluation was at the core of what I had always wanted to get out of the program: the skills to investigate how and why exhibits and programs inspire visitors to take action for social and climate justice. Evaluations are critical; not only do they show informal education institutions the extent to which their exhibits and programs meet their goals, but they direct them toward strategies to continuously improve. Evaluation can also help hold organizations accountable by determining whether their decolonization, equity, and social justice efforts are making the intended differences.” –Linnea Johnson (she/her; Class of 2020)

Prior to our program, 54.4% of our graduate students who completed the Specialization in Evaluation Certificate had never heard of evaluation before.


What skills or experiences, gained from the Specialization, have you been able to apply to your job(s) or responsibilities?

“Being able to integrate best research practices and audience research into program development, outreach, and education initiatives has made my work stronger and more audience focused.” –Dillon Connelly (he/him; Class of 2020)

“All of my internship and work study experiences benefited from my previous evaluation projects and education while pursuing the specialization. I have held several evaluator positions with different organizations since graduation and definitely leveraged being able to design evaluation plans, implement data collection methods, and report findings with clear data visualization.” –Nicole Claudio (she/her; Class of 2019) 

“I was able to implement front-end and formative evaluation in my previous job — from creating an evaluation plan, coordinating data collection, coding and analyzing data in Excel, and reporting out on findings. I have also applied skills from evaluation to larger research initiatives in my current work.” –Steffi Morrison (she/her; Class of 2019)

“The skills I gained in the evaluation specialization are and will continue to be invaluable throughout my career, no matter my field… In the specialization, I also practiced universally applicable skills such as public speaking, report writing and design, collaboration, and project management. Our projects connected me with people at numerous museums, zoos, and aquariums around the area, which opened up possibilities for future projects and internships.” –Linnea Johnson (she/her; Class of 2020)


Is there anything else you’d like to describe or share about your Specialization in Evaluation experience?

“The connection to a museum and being able to provide them data they can use to improve their functions was a really great experience!” –Gloria (she/her; Class of 2020)

“I truly believe that the skills and experiences I gained through the Specialization has helped lead to jobs and opportunities in the field.” –Steffi Morrison (she/her; Class of 2019)

“The fact that the specialization offers real world experience in instrument design and data analysis for real museums, aquaria, and zoos not only builds your resume but helps you invest in the work. You’re not just doing a class assignment, your work could have a real impact on the institutions you’re working for.” –Dillon Connelly (he/him; Class of 2020)

“I am incredibly grateful for the respect, sense of community, and creativity within my cohort, professors, and alumni who were involved with the Specialization in Evaluation. I always feel that I can reach out to this network to work through evaluation-related decisions or find new opportunities in the field and other sectors.” –Nicole Claudio (she/her; Class of 2019) 

“I feel like I am learning by doing, collaborating creatively, and I am excited to have another complete project that I feel proud to have in my back-pocket work experience portfolio.” –Class of 2021

“The skills I am learning from the Specialization in Evaluation I feel are very transferable to other fields of work. They prepare me to approach work in many different settings. I’ve really appreciated the set up of the evaluation certification track. I think the way Angie Ong organizes the course really added to my enjoyment of the courses.” –Kat Pesigan (she/they; Class of 2021) 

“Overall it has been really exciting watching the whole process unfold from developing evaluation questions to conducting focus groups. Our data collection process has reminded me how much our community cares about museums even during a global pandemic.” –Jessica Conway (Class of 2021)

“This specialization has given me practical experience in designing and executing evaluative studies on an individual and group level.” –Class of 2021

“It has been a really rewarding team experience doing the year long evaluation study. The first year, I learned skills. The second year, I grew both as a person and as an evaluator.” –Debbie Ward (Class of 2021)