Identifying Outcomes

Outcomes in

Welcome to the eeVAL outcomes page! 

Outcomes are measurable of that help you know whether and to what degree your program is accomplishing its goals. Clearly articulating your program goals and measurable outcomes is an important step in the evaluation process. Identifying program goals and outcomes alongside key program partners can increase the relevance of your programming (process B and in the spirit of the values authentic and deep curiosity).  

Environmental education showcases many different types of outcomes. There are no “right” outcomes. The best outcomes are ones that align best with your project. Below are examples of outcomes that are most commonly measured. However, this list is by no means complete. As with all of eeVAL, this list of outcomes is a “living” project that evolves as evaluation becomes more inclusive of the voices and experiences of persons who currently hold least among us (e.g., youth, practitioners, non-degree holders, members of non-dominant cultural groups).

Keep in mind that many programs have multiple goals; you could measure multiple outcomes for a single program. Furthermore, some outcomes are complex and using multiple different methods may be appropriate. One instrument may not be enough to evaluate all your desired program goals and outcomes. Sometimes you might rely on coupled with , , or participatory methods (see eeVAL process C) to deepen your understanding about how your programs are working, what your participants are learning, and what you might want to change.

Once you know which outcomes you want to measure, you can start using the Tool Library to find a tool that works for your program. This library offers a set of tools that a team of evaluation professionals determined could be helpful as environmental educators evaluate their programs.

Click here to visit eeVAL Tool Library.

Unsure what outcomes your program is working towards? 

Revisit Process A and B for more information on developing grounding knowledge in your evaluation. In determining outcomes, you might look at your mission statement - what defines your organization? If you have a for your program, you have listed short, medium, and long-term outcomes. Are they reflected in the list below? You might want to factor in what is realistic given the you have available for evaluation. Also consider working with staff and other to consider what outcomes are important to participants. The information below can help lead you to the appropriate outcome. Remember, you can measure more than one in each program, and you may need more than one tool to measure each! 

Read the descriptions below to help you determine what outcome you want to measure, and then on the Tool Library page, you can sort the tools by the outcome you chose. 

  • If your program is trying to get your participants to connect with a local habitat or identify with a particular geography, you might want to measure their . Similarly, if your program is helping people deeply experience, identify with, and appreciate nature in general, you might assess .
  • Many programs seek to provide information and increase learner’s . This might be information that is specific to your program, facility, and experience, or you might want to enhance general environmental thinking and learning skills. is closely connected to environmental knowledge, but also includes attitudes and behaviors, which are listed here as separate outcomes.
  • Some programs wish to support positive environmental attitude by helping learners care about the environment or wildlife. These attitudes are the product of positive and negative judgments with what learners believe is true. Be careful to distinguish attitudes from values. Environmental values are broader and deeper than attitudes, and are often culturally determined guiding principles. Values are not easily changed with educational programs, and are rarely an objective or outcome. 
  • If your program is influencing participants’ activities, such as limiting their purchase of single-use plastics, you probably want to measure their . Sometimes you can measure actual behaviors, such as through observation. Sometimes you settle for participants self-reported behaviors. Some behaviors are in the future and/or difficult to observe, but you can measure intention (typically another self-reported form of data). Programs could also affect , which are in a different outcome category to better draw attention to the motivation people have for learning, collecting data, and working for change at the .
  • You may want to measure outcomes that are commonly discussed in formal education circles that environmental education can support. For example, you may wish to measure youth participants' , or their development. These skills could include systems thinking as well as critical thinking, problem solving, and group process skills. Similarly, you may wish to strengthen learners’ self- by teaching a skill and giving them a chance to practice it. 
  • Your program may be designed to affect in the community. These might be ecosystem changes, such as improving water quality or wildlife habitat, or changes associated with environmental action, community resilience, or . It may be possible to identify indicators that are associated with these goals, and to monitor them over time through program evaluation. 
  • You may be curious to know the level of participant engagement in your programs and curriculum. This could measure how interested they are in an activity or general interest in science or science careers. 

Note on Outcomes Listed Here

This is not a list of all possible outcomes relevant to EE programming, but rather outcomes that are frequently found in ​​environmental education, and that you can use as a starting point for your organization to think about what EE outcomes are important to you. Some of these may resonate with you, some may not, and what is important to your organization may not even be on this list. Our is that this list starts you thinking about outcomes. 

To create this list, a group of EE practitioners, researchers, and evaluators got together to think about what EE organizations might evaluate. We started with the list of EE outcomes from Krasny (2020) in “Advancing Environmental Education Practice”, then examined similar and additional outcomes used by four efforts in EE (all four collective EE networks are located in the US). We highlighted outcomes that as a group we thought would be relevant to EE practitioners (not necessarily EE research), and highlighted some new voices and emerging practices. Holding true to the CREE process, we followed an iterative and collective process. We know other outcomes will start to emerge as ideas change and more EE voices are included, and we are excited to see this list grow and evolve over time.  

Understanding the outcomes that are important for your organization can help your organization monitor these outcomes, and ultimately move towards your version of success. Please note, we offer examples and definitions for you to think broadly -- deciding on outcomes for your organization will mean bringing diverse voices to your EE table, and working together to understand where you want to go and how you want to get there. You will not identify a perfect outcome, but if your process of understanding outcomes includes your community, and viewpoints from partners, then you are working towards CREE.