Evaluation Working Group Update: Survey Results

Evaluation Across Centers

How can you speak about collective impacts of the COSEE Network when there are 13 different Centers, each with multiple partners, reaching out to the public in hundreds of different ways? The answer was simple: Collect common data across all Centers. The task, however, was far from simple.

In early 2009, a reconstituted Evaluation Working Group (EWG) tackled the task of collecting common, cross-COSEE data on the many ways in which COSEE brings scientists and educators together to advance ocean sciences education. After a year of almost weekly conference calls dedicated to defining scientists, educators and the activities that COSEE engages in, we launched our first cross-COSEE survey in January 2010. These efforts produced our first set of results this spring and we’re reporting the highlights here.

But first, a little background on the EWG. Members of the current EWG include four COSEE Principal Investigators, seven COSEE Evaluators, one National Advisory Council member, the Central Coordinating Office (CCO), National Network Evaluator (NNE) and the National Science Foundation (NSF). Chris Parsons of COSEE NOW currently chairs the group. Because all Center Evaluators are stakeholders in the EWG, Chris and Patricia Kwon of COSEE West serve as liaisons to the Center Evaluators. The Center Evaluators provide vital input to EWG activities and work with their individual Centers to ensure high-quality data collection.

This initial cross-COSEE survey targeted scientists engaged with COSEE in 2009. Of the 749 individuals invited to take the survey, 487 responded, for a 65% response rate, which is a very high response rate for such a survey. Of the 487 respondents, 315 identified themselves as researchers/scientists and indicated that they had been involved with COSEE in 2009. We view this as a bedrock number for a single year and look forward to tracking changes over time.

The respondents, those who identified themselves as scientists who worked with the COSEE Network in 2009, are a diverse and accomplished group. A substantial majority (71%) holds doctorate degrees, and of those who teach at the post-secondary level almost half (45%) are tenured. They are roughly equally early-career (28%), mid-career (32%) and advanced-career (25%) professionals, and bring to COSEE expertise from a wide range of disciplines. They are nearly equally female (45%) and male (55%), and their racial background is predominantly white (89%). They work at agencies and institutions in 32 states. Almost half (46%) receive NSF funding for their scientific research.

The majority of these scientists were engaged with COSEE in 2009 as participants (72%), but they also provided resources (41%), were advocates/advisors (25%), and/or were partners (18%). Seven percent were leaders within COSEE. These results came from a core of 13 questions asked by all Centers. Each Center asked additional questions to learn more about the scientists with which they work most closely.

We are continually impressed with the enthusiasm and dedication of the scientists with whom we work, and thank everyone who responded to this survey. The EWG is also pleased to be presenting to COSEE reliable, consistent, and coherent network-wide data about scientists’ engagement with COSEE during a calendar year (2009). We are currently analyzing data from our second cross-COSEE survey, this one from educators, and we’ll be reporting those results later this summer.

We would not be reporting on any results without the wonderfully professional and collegial efforts of all the COSEE evaluators and PIs, the EWG and the National Network Evaluator team.

Submitted by Chris Parsons