Archive for March, 2014

RK&A is Hiring!

Randi Korn & Associates, Inc., a consulting firm specializing in evaluating museum programs and exhibitions, is seeking a Research Associate in its Alexandria, VA office.  Under the management of a mentor/supervisor, the Research Associate will be responsible for implementing diverse evaluation projects and services; coordinating contractor data collection teams; collecting and analyzing qualitative and quantitative data; and preparing reports and presentations.

The ideal candidate will have 1-2 years experience conducting evaluation in museum-like settings and a strong a desire to join a work environment that is client-centered.  A master’s degree in applied anthropology, evaluation, educational psychology, sociology, educational measurement, museum education, museum studies, or a related field is required.  Qualified candidates will be familiar with current evaluation methods and practices.  Qualitative data analysis experience is required, and quantitative data analysis experience is a plus.  The qualified candidate must have excellent writing skills, be able to juggle multiple projects and work both independently and as part of project teams.  A passion for museums or other kinds of informal learning environments is a preferred, and knowledge of HTML coding is a plus.

RK&A’s strength is that we are a team.  In joining our team you will work with people who love what they do and are driven to learn from each other, our clients, museum visitors, and our museum colleagues around the country.  Our casual office environment is comfortable and adaptable.  If you think this is the job for you, we welcome your application.

RK&A offers a competitive compensation and benefits package.  For information on RK&A, please visit www.randikorn.com.  Interested applicants should forward a resume with cover letter, salary requirements, and two independently written and edited writing samples to: skidmore@randikorn.com, or to: RK&A, 2417 B Mount Vernon Avenue, Alexandria, VA  22301.  Resumes will be accepted until April 30, 2014.

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I25th Anniversary Butterflyn Reflection #3, Emily Skidmore talked about how you can’t rush measuring outcomes and advocated for slowing down and conducting front-end and formative evaluation to improve exhibitions, programs, and experiences prior to jumping into measuring outcomes.  I’d like to piggy-back on the slow movement and talk about Institutional Review Board (IRB) and school district review, which is Slow with a capital ‘s’—for better or worse.

IRB is a formally designated board that reviews social science, biomedical, and behavioral research to determine whether the benefits of the research outweigh the risks for the participants in the study.  To be blunt, IRB can be a real thorn in our side.  It requires extensive, tedious paperwork for something we may consider innocuous (e.g., interviewing teachers about their program experience).  Given the many forms and thorough explanations of research procedures required, we spend a lot of time preparing for IRB, and then there is the fee to the external IRB to review the paperwork and methodology.  In addition to the budgetary implications IRB has for our clients, IRB procedures also can significantly delay the research well past when the museum may have expected its research to take place.  Not all of our work requires IRB review, but generally, most research projects where we measure outcomes do.

When our work includes collecting data from students and teachers, we sometimes have to submit our protocols to 1609_Color_Nit-Picking_IRBschool districts for formal review too.  School district review is separate from IRB review, although a school district’s criteria for reviewing research protocols are normally akin to IRB criteria.  Nevertheless, it is yet another required process that can really put the brakes on a project.  For instance, one school district took five months to review our project—much to the chagrin of our client and its funder (understandably so).

At times, IRB and school district reviews can feel like ridiculous hoops that we have to jump through, or bureaucracy at its worst.  As Don Mayne’s cartoon portrays, sometimes the IRB feels like a bunch of nitpicky people who exist solely to make our lives more difficult when we and our museum clients simply want to improve experiences for museum visitors.  So as I justify our sampling procedures for the fifteenth time in the required paperwork, I may shake my head and curse under my breath, but I truly do appreciate the work that IRB and school districts do (I swear there aren’t IRB reviewers holding my feet to the fire as I type!).

When I take a moment and step back, I realize that the process of submitting to IRB forces me to think through all the nitty-gritty details of the research process, which ultimately improves the research and protects museum visitors as research participants.  The extreme assumptions any given IRB makes about our research—(no, I will not be injecting anyone with an unknown substance)—I try not to take them personally and simply respond as clearly and concisely as possible.  And I have gotten pretty good at navigating the system at this point.  Then, I hold our client’s hand, try to protect them from as much of the paperwork and tedium as I can, and tell them, ever so gently, that their research may be delayed.

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25th Anniversary ButterflyIntentional Museum is pleased to announce its first student blogging competition!  In honor of RK&A’s 25th anniversary, we want to hear from tomorrow’s museum professionals about their intentional practice and the impact it can have on the visitor experience. 

For our first blogging competition, we ask you to reflect on the following question: Through your intentional practice, how do you help museums enrich the lives of others?  Perhaps you are focusing on collections or exhibitions, using objects and artifacts to tell stories.  Maybe your love is museum education or visitor services, ensuring visitors have positive museum experiences.  Whether front-of-house or behind-the-scenes, we want to hear from you (check the guidelines for more information)! 

We often reflect on our professional experiences on Intentional Museum, but we appreciate the personal connection.  We want your blogs to tell a story, to speak about your experience, and to highlight your unique insight into the museum field.

Guidelines:

  • Bloggers must be currently enrolled in a museum studies, museum education, library sciences or similar degree or certificate program.  Undergraduate and graduate students are welcome to apply.
  • Blogs should be no longer than 500 words and written in a conversational style.  Avoid jargon and academic language to ensure clarity.
  • You are welcome to share how the work of others has influenced your practice, but this isn’t required.  If you include quotes, be sure to include citations.
  • We have no idea what the winning blogs will look like – if you look through our past posts, you will see we tell stories, share academic insights, and sometimes we are funny.  We want to hear your story, so let your passion show.
  • Check your work carefully for spelling and accuracy.  While no one is perfect, winning blogs will be error free.
  • Email your entry to craig@randikorn.com by 5:00pm (EST), Friday, April 4, 2014.

RK&A staff will review all entries, pick the top 3 and publish them on the Intentional Museum blog.  Winners will be notified and announced at the end of April.  Winning blog posts will be shared with our readers in May and June 2014.  Winners will also receive a copy of one of our favorite museum books, Stephen Weil’s Making Museums Matter, with a personalized note from Randi.

How to Enter:

  • One (1) entry per blogger, please. 
  • Send your blog as a Word document attached to an email. 
  • Include your name, school, degree program and expected graduation date in the body of the email, with the subject line “Intentional Museum Blog Competition.”
  • Please do not include your name/identifying information as a header to your blog entry.  Each entry will be assigned a number to ensure unbiased review. 
  • Email your entry to craig@randikorn.com by 5:00pm (EST), Friday, April 4, 2014.

Other Important Information:

  • RK&A reserves the right to edit winning blog entries for content and length.
  • Winners will be notified via email and will have 48 hours to respond with their contact information for book delivery.
  • Books will only be mailed to those in the United States and will be sent via the US Postal Service no later than May 30, 2014.
  • If a winner does not respond in the allotted timeframe, an alternate winner will take his/her place.
  • Winners will be asked to submit a picture of themselves for publication with their blog.

Still have questions?  Contact us at craig@randikorn.com, or post a comment in response to this post on our blog!

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