Community-informed improvements with the Compass project: Advancing Earth Education Resource Discovery
The Science Education Resource Center (SERC) website is BIG and has been growing for the last 20 years. SERC has worked in collaboration with over 250 projects resulting in 6,000+ teaching activities, 6,600+ authors and contributors, and 54,000+ pages of content. Visitors to the SERC-hosted websites may find it challenging to leverage these resources due to the sheer quantity and the distribution of materials across discrete project websites.
Through the Compass project, we are engaging the community to help us understand how visitors currently navigate the site to aid in identifying potential areas of improvement and prioritizing changes. This process will ensure that the changes are of high use and result in more discoverable Earth Education resources where visitors spend less energy finding resources, leaving more time to spend with the content of those resources.
In the first year of the project, we have: 1) reviewed past evaluation studies of SERC-hosted websites to understand what is already known about the site use and challenges, 2) conducted baseline walkthrough interviews to identify differences in navigation strategies for topics that are more and less familiar, and 3) launched a mini-survey to better understand the Earth Education community use and perception of the website. Findings through these studies have confirmed information (e.g. SERC-hosted resources are viewed as credible) and provided new and nuanced findings (e.g. nearly half of survey respondents report using SERC-hosted websites for resources related to diversity, equity, and inclusion) that help inform website improvements.
As discovery improvements are implemented (https://serc.carleton.edu/compass/plan.html), the evaluation and research will continue to engage community members to test the usefulness of changes and inform iterations.