Many terms commonly used in environmental education programs—such as environment, evaluation, education, and healthy—carry different meanings for different people. Deep curiosity applies multiple methods of inquiry to reveal diverse perspectives and ways of knowing.
Many associate surveys most closely with evaluation, yet other approaches may be more appropriate to learn from participants and partners and to be responsive to local cultures, histories, and traditions.
Deep curiosity considers many ways to learn with and from program partners, participants, the community being served, and others. Interviews, observations, and feedback produced by program activities and additional creative strategies may be more appropriate to learn from and with participant and partners.
When we pause to listen, acknowledge, and make data collection decisions based on what participants and community members already know and do, we are practicing deep curiosity.
In practice, deep curiosity considers many ways to learn with and from evaluation partners, program partners, participants, the community being served, and others. When we pause to listen, acknowledge, and make data collection decisions based on what participants and community members already know and do, we are demonstrating deep curiosity. Practitioners can support deep curiosity by learning about and using community words (instead of program jargon), being led by community interests, and adopting meeting norms. These are examples of participant-centered and community-centered processes rooted in deep curiosity. Funders can recognize and support the time needed to do this foundational work. Funders can also facilitate connections among their grantees and practitioners who have successfully engaged in participant- and community-centered practices and evaluations.
Reflect on Your Practice
- How does your evaluation invite and respond to multiple perspectives in your methods of inquiry, meaning making and reporting?
- How does your evaluation apply methods of inquiry rooted in the cultures, histories, and traditions of the people and communities it serves?
- How do you know whether and why certain evaluation priorities and questions matter to your partners and participants?
- For funders, how are you supporting grantees with time and resources for community-centered processes that reflect deep curiosity?
- For funders, how open are you to new and different methods of inquiry and indicators of program impact?
Uses a combination of both quantitative and qualitative information in an evaluation. It allows quantitative information to be collected from a large number of participants (increasing the likelihood that results can be applied to all program participants). It also allows in-depth qualitative inquiry with a smaller number of participants. A mixed methods approach requires an evaluator who is able to collect information using a variety of methods of inquiry and analyses (Zint, n.d.).
Uses an array of approaches (e.g., interviews, observation, photovoice, drawings, free-response survey items) that seek to understand people and their social experiences. It can provide rich context for examining participants’ experiences and how a program operates.
Uses an array of approaches relying on numerical measurements (e.g., counting of things, website statistics, environmental quality monitoring data, close-ended survey items) that seek to confirm assumptions and understandings about people and their social experiences. Allows evaluators to test assumptions and establish casual relationships.
Explore the Other Values
Equity in Motion
Use equitable evaluation policies and practices to contribute to just outcomes.
Support continuous growth, examine assumptions, and celebrate ideas at both the individual and organizational levels.
Balance the technical mechanics with the socio-political and ethical considerations that impact individuals and communities.
Allow for learning to be shared beyond organizations and networks to convey the multitude of evaluation processes, stories, and impacts, and to benefit the field broadly.