evaluation and consultation

Learning Unlimited has wide-ranging experience in evaluation and audience consultation, running both discrete evaluation studies and embedding consultation in wider projects such as Audience Development Plans. We have supported small museums to run their own studies and organised complex multi-site, multi-audience evaluation programmes.

Jo was one of the UK’s first “Audience Advocates” at the Science Museum, London. Since then she has carried out research, consultation and evaluation using a wide range of evaluation methods, to suit different audiences. She pioneered the use of “Accompanied Visits” at the V&A and brought the ORIM framework from the Early Years sector into museums.

Learning Unlimited’s strategic approach ensures that our evaluations are effective and robust. The breadth and depth of our experience in the sector means that our recommendations are realistic, achievable and based on effective practice.

evaluation projects

Renaissance South East - SLIME network

An online members survey was combined with key stakeholder interviews and non-member phone interviews to provide an assessment of the impact of SLIME and how it should develop in the future.


Renaissance South West – Parents as First Educators research

A ground-breaking research programme involving six museums across the South West. The study explored how museums might best support parents to engage their children with collections and buildings, rather than relying on staff-led provision. Jo coordinated the programme, developing a planning and assessment framework, providing professional development for participants and writing the report, which can be downloaded from the resources page.


Poole Museum Service - Extended Schools project

The aim of the evaluation was to both capture the outcomes of the project and to advise on how the Museum Service could work with Extended Services in the future. An Every Child Matters Enjoy and Achieve framework was devised and used to evaluate project outcomes for the children.


Royal Navy Submarine Museum - Fathers and Families workshops

A comparative study on the potential of two styles of workshop to cater for fathers as part of family groups. Used to inform the development of a successful Dads' Club.


Royal Navy Submarine Museum - Guided Tours of HMS Alliance

An observational analysis of veteran sub-mariner led tours focusing on the 4 key areas of content, delivery, atmosphere and logistics. The report informed the development of an Access and Audience Development Plan for the Alliance as part of a larger-scale HLF funded conservation and interpretation project.


MLA South West - Museum Skills Training Programme

This two-year study combined quantitative data gathered from each training event and qualitative data from in-depth follow up interviews to assess the programme’s impact and record its outcomes. A skills audit and creative consultation day were used to ensure MDO involvement.


Renaissance South West – Close Encounters with Culture

A collaborative research programme across the five Hub partners to explore whether children in EYFS can engage with museum objects, collections and stories and to what extent museums could help deliver the EYFS. Jo coordinated the project, delivered relevant training, wrote the research report and presented the findings to Local Authority Early Years teams across the region. She also coordinated and wrote a joint publication with Renaissance North West, which can be downloaded from the resources page.


London Museums Hub - Early Years Provision in Hub Museums

An assessment framework based on the EYFS guidance was developed. The London Hub found the resulting report so useful they commissioned Learning Unlimited to turn it into a “How to” guide. (First Steps can be downloaded from the resources page)


MLA South West - Strategic Commissioning project stories

This summative evaluation was framed so that the data gathered could be turned into project stories to use for advocacy and the sharing of good practice.


Jane Austen House Museum – visitor consultation

The Museum needed to consult visitors to inform development ideas for a Heritage Lottery Fund bid. Front of House staff used a survey created by Jo to collect data, which Jo then analysed and interpreted. The consultation identified what it was that visitors valued about their experience enabling new developments to build on strengths and allaying concerns around change.


South West Museum Hub - education consultant

Working with Nicky Boyd, Learning Unlimited organised a wide-ranging consultation to identify the needs of potential audiences from the formal education sector and families. The information gathered informed the development of the Hub’s first Education Programme Delivery Plan (EPDP). Studies covered:

• Local Education Authority priorities
• working with ASTs (Advanced Skills Teachers)
• primary teacher needs
• how museums can address Literacy
• the characteristics of successful loans boxes
• how to deliver Citizenship
• the potential of using ICT for formal education provision
• family audience needs (visiting and non-visitor families)


O.U.M.N.H. - Evaluating online resources for schools

The Oxford University Museum of Natural History were looking to extend their educational web resources. Working with Nicky Boyd, Learning Unlimited carried out user observations and interviews with teachers, primary and secondary students to inform the process. In framing our recommendations we drew on our experience as web designers and online educational content developers.


Kings College, London – Research on social interaction

Working with Professor Christian Heath and Dr Kathy Sykes, Jo took part in a collaborative research project exploring the nature of social collaboration at exhibits and how this is planned for in exhibit design. This work has been disseminated through conferences and articles including “Interaction and interactives: collaboration and participation with computer-based exhibits” in Public Understanding of Science, Vol. 14, No. 1, 91-101 (2005).

V&A Museum, London - Visitor Orientation research study

Working with Louise West, Learning Unlimited pioneered the use of accompanied visits as an evaluation tool. Data was triangulated with a large-scale entry and exit survey.


Discover, East London - Learning Advisory Group

Learning Unlimited recruited and ran a Learning Advisory Group to input learning expertise into the development of Discover and ensure that teacher and pupil needs were at the heart of planning.