Checklist for Effective Environmental Education Programs: A Guide to Formative Evaluation Reflection


Adapted from Oxarart, A. and M. C. Monroe. 2016. A cognitive approach to environmental education. Across the Spectrum: for Environmental Educators, Third edition. Washington DC: North American Association for Environmental Education. pp. 127-140.


This tool helps program coordinators and staff consider whether their program is on track for success. Of course that depends on the purpose, the learners, and what the intention for the program, but this checklist is versatile. Questions like these have been used to improve teacher workshops, festivals, and nature center programs for youth. Nevertheless, some of the following questions may not apply to your program. Others may trigger some interesting possibilities for program improvement. These recommendations are based on insights from Supportive Environments for Effectiveness (SEE), an evidence-based framework that describes how environments can be designed to encourage learning and empower people. There are four areas where educators might make improvements using this framework. These questions might spark ideas for collecting data from program participants or staff.


Reflective questions for staff to consider.



When and how to use the tool

This tool could be used before a program is developed to help consider elements that will make the program effective. Once a program has been developed, the tool can be used to help staff reflect on the program and consider if it is successful. Staff could also use this tool to determine additional perspectives and data they might wish to collect from program participants. It can be used in a staff meeting, retreat, or as the basis for a report from some staff to others.

What to do next

The introduction to the questions help suggest how an effective program might operate. It may be possible to use these statements to generate new ideas for program improvement. Additional information can be found at the SEE website and the original paper from Across the Spectrum.

Discuss your findings from this method with program staff, community members, or anyone else involved with your program. Work together to brainstorm ways to improve and move forward. Additionally, share what you learn with other organizations in your network.

How to see if this tool would work with your program

This tool can work with any EE program!

Tool tips

  • Best used with a clear head and plenty of snacks. 
  • You might consider hiring an external facilitator to help move the process along.