Professional Development

VSA is committed to providing our members with ongoing professional development throughout their career and we are proud to offer a variety of educational and engagement opportunities. Learn more about each!

Annual Conference - Historically held the third week of July, VSA's annual conference is the key event for the Association. Holding over 20 sessions, presenting innovative and renowned speakers, and providing ample time for dialogue and networking, the three-day annual conference brings over 200 attendees together for a conversation about the field of informal learning.

Conference Workshops - Held before and after the conference, workshop leaders come from a broad range of fields to present full and half day sessions that are lively, interactive, relevant, and offer participants the opportunity to broaden their knowledge and skills in studying or enhancing the experiences of visitors, participants, and audiences.

Regional Workshops - VSA tries to host at least two workshops each year that draw together colleagues from a local community. Often building upon interesting sessions and workshops from the Annual Conference, the half and full day workshops are a more economical way to receive professional development for many members and non-members than attending the conference across the country.

Webinars - VSA and the Association of Science-Technology Centers have teamed up to provide VSA and ASTC members webinars focused on applying research and evaluation findings to various components of science center programs and projects.


In addition to these current offerings, VSA members are working to offer new ways of learning, engaging in discussion, and developing forums for various focused topics. If you are interested in learning more or helping realize any of the potential offerings below, let us know!

Focused Interest Groups (FIGs) - Initiated in December 2014, the VSA Board voted to adopt Focused Interest Groups (FIG) as part of the organizational structure. VSA FIGs are open to all current members, providing forums for sharing and cultivating common VSA member interests. FIGs are sub-groups of VSA, and their activities and activity level are dependent upon the members of each FIG. A few FIGs have been developed, and they will be launching at this summer's conference. Check back for more information in late July!

Online "Chats" - Currently being considered by a subcommittee of the Professional Development Committee, informal “chats” will provide a free forum for a small group of people to gather virtually and talk about a topic of common interest. Unlike the webinars, which are designed to appeal to a broad audience (including, but also beyond, VSA members), the “chats” are specifically aimed at VSA members. The PDC hopes to use the chats to continue compelling conversations begun at the conference throughout the year.

Dining Discussions - Beginning at this year's conference, VSA will be offering participant-led conversations over dinner. These conversations will provide informal networking and socializing opportunities for attendees who share a common interest. Attendees can propose topics of conversation for groups of up to 12 people, and conference attendees will sign up to participate during on-site registration. Topics can run the gamut from fun to serious: Books/Articles of Interest, Internal Evaluator Meet-up, Teaching Evaluation, Evaluating Sensitive Topics, or Epic Fails. Do you have a topic you would like to discuss with other like-minded souls? Send us a proposal!

We hope that you find utility in much that VSA offers, but we also want to know if you don't. Please reach out to tell us how we can better meet your needs, provide you with timely and appropriate professional development and support, and more!