Evaluation & Monitoring

Participant in Latino Legacy program working on a craft

Evaluation and Monitoring

Thorough evaluation is key to providing high-quality conservation education programs and materials. Without evaluation, we cannot understand what was accomplished, what could be improved and what we should do in the future. Yet often, educators are challenged by the daunting task of designing, implementing and analysing a valid educational evaluation.

The Conservation Education program and its partners, have tackled these issues with two innovative resources that provide extensive capacity-building resources for evaluating conservation education programs and materials. Use these excellent resources to gain the tools, and confidence, to make evaluation a key component of all your efforts.

My Environmental Education Evaluation Resource Assistant

My Environmental Education Resource Assistant” (MEERA) is your one-stop online resource for building environmental education evaluation capacity. Led by the University of Michigan and supported by the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Forest Service, MEERA represents the collective work of many agencies, educational institutions and reviewers.

Do you need help evaluating your environmental education program? You have come to the right place. “My Environmental Education Evaluation Resource Assistant” (MEERA) is an online "evaluation consultant" created to assist you with your evaluation needs. It will point you to resources that will be helpful in evaluating your environmental education program.

MEERA can help you:

  • Learn more about evaluation and its importance.   
  • Move through the evaluation process step-by-step, with tips and pitfalls to avoid.   
  • Obtain suggestions on important evaluation topics, for example, on how to find, select, and work with an external evaluator.   
  • Search through example EE evaluations and obtain detailed insights about these evaluations.  
  • Find additional evaluation resources such as “how-to” guides and links to evaluation tools.   
  • Identify and learn about related professional development opportunities.

EUGENE - Ecological Understanding as a Guideline for Evaluation of Non-formal Education

EUGENE (Ecological Understanding as a Guideline for Evaluation of Non-formal Education) is free, easy to use, evaluation tool designed to aid environmental educators. The tool is a questionnaire based on the principles of ecology outlined by Eugene Odum; adaptation, behavior, diversity, growth and development, energy flow, limits, and regulation. Research found 97.9 percent of EE programs had at least one of these principles incorporated into the program's activities. EUGENE helps the EE educator evaluate their program and thereby improve it, if need be.

EUGENE should be available in January 2010, and will be hosted on the MEERA website designed by the University of Michigan.

Applied Environmental Education Program Evaluation -- an Online Course

The Applied Environmental Education Program Evaluation (AEEPE) online course was designed to help environmental educators and natural resource professionals evaluate their education programs. The course provides participants with an overview of evaluation and an opportunity to practice skills designing and using evaluation tools for environmental education and outreach programs.

NRES 751: Applied EE Program Evaluation: is available for 3 graduate level credits through UWSP. It is also available as a non-credit workshop for those not seeking college credit.

LOGIC MODELS -- An effective planning tool that leads to evaluation

What is a Logic Model?

A logic model is an effective planning tool that provides a roadmap or simple illustration of a well-planned program or action.  It displays the sequence of actions that describe what the program is and will do – how investments link to results. Logic Models often include 5 core components of the program action:

  1. INPUTS: resources, contributions, investments that go into the program
  2. OUTPUTS: activities, services, events and products that reach people who participate or who are targeted
  3. OUTCOMES: results or changes for individuals, groups, communities, organizations, communities, or systems
  4. ASSUMPTIONS: the beliefs we have about the program, the people involved, and the context and the way we think the program will work
  5. EXTERNAL FACTORS: the environment in which the program exists includes a variety of external factors that interact with and influence the program action.

The University of Wisconsin Extension Service provides a terrific resource for learning how to complete logic models. Through their website, you can take an online course in logic models AND download template materials and targeted 'how to' guides.

UWEX Logic Model Web Site

Guide to Logic Models - W. Kellogg Foundation

The W. Kellogg Foundation also provides a terrific guide to developing logic models. Go to their website to download this free guide.