Measuring the Success of Environmental Education Programs
By Gareth Thomson
Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society
and Jenn Hoffman
Sierra Club of Canada, BC Chapter
Co-sponsored by the Global, Environmental, and Outdoor Education Council (GEOEC) of the Alberta Teachers Assocation
Today more than ever, society needs high-quality environmental education programs that succeed in moving values and changing behaviours in the direction of sustainability and environmental conservation. Effective, relevant evaluation offers a very powerful way to improve these education programs and enables them to succeed in accomplishing more of their objectives and goals.
Funders and programmers alike strive for better techniques to evaluate the success of environmental education. Methods of evaluation are often poorly understood, particularly among professionals who deliver environmental education programs. A survey of both these professionals and academics found a scarcity of techniques to measure the more challenging outcomes such as values shift, behaviour change, and benefits to the environment. This document is an attempt at outlining and describing pertinent educatiohnal evaluation methodologies and tools. Its purpose is not to reinvent the wheel, but rather to connect environmental educators with solid, practical evaluation strategies, methods and advice.
Outcome-Based Evaluation is rapidly growing in popularity and use among both funding and the non-governmental community, and the authors describe a program logic model and an evaluation scheme that flows from this model, using illustrative examples from existing environmental education programs. Finally, some outcome indicators are suggested that can be used to assess the "hard to measure" long-term outcomes that pertain to values, behaviour, and environmental benefits. This report also briefly reviews the basic tenets of environmental education, reports on ten principles of excellent environmental education, and includes a glossary and written and on-line resources to assist the reader.