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Past Projects

Wildlife Conservation Society – NSF ITEST: Bridging the Gap (2012 - 2015)

The Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS; www.wcs.org) is an institution consisting of five public conservation facilities in New York City (led by the flagship Bronx Zoo) and more than 500 research and conservation WCSprojects around the world. WCS created a new informal education program, called Bridging the Gap, with funding from the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Innovative Technology Experiences for Students and Teachers (ITEST) grant. The ultimate goal of Bridging the Gap was to promote academic and career interest in zoological sciences for minority high school students. It consisted of a series of hands-on activities relating to zoological and environmental sciences, as well as a workshop for participants’ parents. These activities were conducted at the five sites over one semester, with additional mentoring and assistance after the program ends. Three cohorts of about 50 students each participated in this program, over a three-year period.

WCS partnered with Hezel Associates to conduct an external evaluation of Bridging the Gap. As the evaluator, Hezel Associates designed a mixed-methods study to determine the implementation quality of program activities and the impacts on participants (both students and their parents). To accomplish this, the research team developed data collection tools, including questionnaires, for students and parents. Data analysis methods include descriptive statistics and inferential testing (e.g., t-tests) of quantitative data, as well as a preordinate scheme for qualitative data. Findings helped to inform program improvement and were communicated through regular data summaries and annual reports.