Recent calls for better education have many teachers trying out new ways to engage their students and teach them required content. In the current educational atmosphere of accountability, many people are beginning to question the effectiveness and utility of their educational programs. The Christa McAuliffe Space Education Center (CMSEC) is one such program. Key aspects addressed in this study included better understanding the essence of the CMSEC experience, whether it provides any beneficial impact to visitors, and how the CMSEC programs fit into the educational spectrum. An exploratory mixed-method design (utilizing focus groups, interviews, and surveys) was used to explore these issues. The director of the CMSEC hopes to use the information gained from investigating these questions to improve the program and to strengthen its foundation so it will survive beyond his retirement. We discovered that the CMSEC experience is based in simulation theory, very similar to other live simulation experiences that designers employ to meet similar learning outcomes. We found that much of the ambiguity that the CMSEC director identified results from ambiguous goals that are not as tightly aligned with program offerings and procedures as they could be. In order to strengthen the CMSEC programs we recommend they clarify their goals, train staff more explicitly on their goals and how to achieve them, and refine their evaluation methods to measure whether those goals are being met.



College and Department

David O. McKay School of Education; Instructional Psychology and Technology



Date Submitted


Document Type

Selected Project




Evaluation, Educational Simulation, Science Education