build relationships with museum visitors with disabilities who can serve as testers or codevelopers, as well as techniques for conducting interviews with these audiences in particular, to determine participatory outcomes. Similarly, Garibay (2005) suggests ways to design assessment techniques to be culturally responsive to a target audience, even for a single activity.
Ways of assessing participation in media-based activity vary. Web resource usage can be assessed by number of users, duration of use, pages viewed, path of exploration, and entry points from other sites (e.g., Rockman Et Al, 2007). Surveys are used to assess broadcast audiences for TV and radio. Ways to assess depth of participation or integration of experiences are especially important, and these methods are varied. One aspect of progression in an activity is personal ownership and creativity—that is, not just going through the motions of a predefined activity but creating something original in it. For example, Gration and Jones (2008) developed a coding scheme for innovation. Others have focused on evidence of creativity or self-initiated activity. To document participation across settings, events, media, and programs, Ellenbogen (2002) conducted case studies showing examples of families who use many resources in a highly integrated fashion.
Some researchers have investigated extended engagement in science practices by studying home discussions or activities related to science. For example, Ellenbogen showed that frequent users of a science museum continued their discussions and activities in the home and other settings, engaging in integrated, multisetting learning. Other researchers have taken a prospective approach to studying anticipated actions. Clipman (2005) has designed and tested a Visit Inspiration Checklist that asks visitors to anticipate what actions they might take following their visit, including further resources they might use, connections they might make, and activities they might undertake to extend their experience.
Taking a longitudinal approach to data collection allows researchers to get a more complete picture of the role of these learning experiences in peoples’ lives. Researchers have repeatedly shown that many of the conversations that begin in the museum continue once families are back at home (see Astor-Jack et al., 2007).
Ethnographic case studies that involved a long-term relationship between the researcher and a set of families who visited museums frequently, allowing for repeated observations and interviews before, during, and after museum visits (Ellenbogen, 2002, 2003), have suggested that conversational connections between museum experiences and real-world contexts are frequent yet must be examined carefully, since the connections are not always obvious to those outside the family. Perhaps the most important and interesting work on participatory structures in informal environments is ethnographic, allowing for an analysis of particular discourse practices in relation to cultural norms and meanings that are enacted in the setting (Rogoff, 2003; McDermott and Varenne, 1995).