Who’s Who at FIRST® HQ? Meet Nancy Boyer, Ph.D., Director of Impact and Evaluation, FIRST Research and Evaluation Department!
Nancy Boyer joined FIRST in 2011 in the newly created department known as Evaluation. Since then, Nancy has developed the evaluation and data analytics capacity at FIRST and now leads a team of four in the FIRST Research and Evaluation Department as the Director of Evaluation and Impact.
The Research and Evaluation team monitors the reach, experience, and impact of FIRST programs on students, mentors, coaches, and volunteers. They also conduct strategic data analysis to inform decision-making, strategy development, and planning. What does all that mean? By using in-depth interviews, observations, and survey and registration data, the team digs into the impact FIRST is having and then uses that data to improve the programs, expand reach, and deepen the impact FIRST has on participants. This data has been used to ignite new strategies and initiatives at FIRST, including equity, diversity, and inclusion and school-based programming through FIRST® Class Pack.
Nancy’s roles at FIRST have included creating two additional functions for the organization. As a champion of equity and inclusion, Nancy built out the Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion strategies and department at FIRST. Nancy also leads the Data Governance Team that ensures FIRST has a strong privacy protection program.
What’s new in R&E?
FIRST is partnering with the Center for Youth and Communities at Brandeis University to conduct a multi-year longitudinal study assessing the long-term impact of participation in FIRST, and we just received the 84-month findings. The study, which started in 2011, is tracking 822 FIRST students and 451 comparison students. The comparison group included students who did not participate in FIRST but were enrolled in science and technology classes at the same schools. All students received baseline surveys in year one of the study and follow-up surveys each year after. 74% of respondents are still in the study. FIRST is unique in a study of this rigor tracking the same students for 7+ years! The team is also working with two other evaluators: WestEd, to assess the impact of our newest program, FIRST® LEGO® League Discover, and the Research Group at the Lawrence Hall of Science, to assess the impact of FIRST Class Pack. Click here for more details and to watch our latest video on the impact of FIRST.
Nancy believes strongly in the mission of FIRST. Her two children have participated in FIRST® LEGO League, FIRST® Tech Challenge, and FIRST® Robotics Competition. She has volunteered in each program, serving in many roles, including judge, queuer, pit admin, event planner, mentor, and coach. Her husband is also a passionate volunteer for FIRST – mentoring teams, serving on the New Hampshire FIRST Board, and emceeing for local events and at the World Festival for FIRST LEGO League. Her daughter and son have both mentored teams and volunteered at events across multiple FIRST programs.
Nancy has a Master of Social Work degree from University of Pennsylvania and a Ph.D. in Sociology and Social Work from Boston University. Nancy’s career has been in nonprofit and academic settings, as a geriatric-psychiatric social worker, clinical therapist, professor, researcher, and evaluator.
Fun Fact: Nancy loves writing and will be launching a new blog in May all about impact. In her down time, she enjoys spending time with her family and hiking the trails in the White Mountains and New Hampshire State Parks with her two rescue dogs. She has recently found a new passion for bread baking.