Below is the text from the Executive Summary from this report. The complete report can be downloaded from the bottom of this page.
Litzsinger Road Ecology Center, Program Evaluation 2006
The main finding of this evaluation is that educators associated with the Litzsinger Road Ecology Center (LREC or the Center) are happy with the quality of the programs to the point of wanting more quantity and variety of programming. They would prefer a more extended relationship with the Center, with more communication, and programs that reach further into their classroom and throughout their schools. This educator vision is consistent with the direction that LREC seems to be heading, in which there is a paradigm shift from working at a low intensity level with a lot of educators, to working more intensely with educators who are interested in a more substantial relationship with LREC. The vision also seems to reflect a progression from direct services and professional development only, to more of a whole school model, which
is in line with the recently developed LREC logic model, identifying many outcomes that are more consistent with whole school models of environmental education.
The goal of this evaluation was to provide baseline data examining the question of the extent to which an extended relationship with educators affects educator practice and/or student outcomes. To accomplish this objective, the evaluation collected data from the following sources:
· Interviews with a purposive sample of 8 educators who have worked with the Litzsinger Road Ecology Center staff during 2005-2006 and previous academic years; and
· On-line surveys from 33 educators representing 72% of the population of educators who worked with LREC in the 2005-2006 school year.
The report summarizes findings from these data sources, and offers recommendations for program improvement and future evaluation efforts.
Findings and Discussion
Six main themes emerged in support of the overall finding named above:
· Praise for LREC programs and staff
· Outdoor exploration activities engage students
· Opportunities exist to extend relationships between LREC and educators in order to deepen program impact
· LREC meshes well with inquiry-oriented educators and schools
· Mixed evidence about conservation awareness
· Aspirations for whole school change
· Extend and deepen the relationship between LREC and educators
· Increase connections between LREC and the classroom
· Provide opportunities for educators to visit the Center without their students
· School outreach and publicity in the schools
· Build more connections among like-minded educators
· Refine the program logic model based on evaluation findings
· Rely on evaluation evidence to formalize selection criteria for schools to participate in LREC activities
· Use LREC as a way to advance PEEC cross-program agenda
Summary reflection on the future direction of LREC
This final observation represents a relatively subjective inference of the evaluators based on the broadest level of analysis and synthesis of this data set as a whole. In short, it seems that LREC may be poised on the brink of a major paradigm shift.
Up to this point, the LREC model has primarily been comprised of a series of wonderful field trips to educators and their students. It could be that LREC is nearing the upper limit of the impact this delivery model can have on the target audience. It could also be that this is good enough from a strategic perspective, and that LREC’s role in the broader education landscape of St. Louis is to simply provide quick, high energy “shots of field-based inquiry.”
Alternatively, LREC could make a choice to fully embrace the deeper currents revealed in this evaluation and intently pursue more of a whole school change model of program design and delivery. With this approach, the Center would target certain schools and work more intensely with educators at those particular schools. This model could afford LREC the opportunity to accomplish more of the goals put forward in the LREC logic models developed at the beginning of this evaluation process, as well as provide the “more” that the evaluation data indicated educators are seeking.