There are a growing number of environmental education programs for pre-school aged children across the country. However, not much is known about these programs’ effectiveness, partly because little is known about how to assess changes in young children’s cognitive or affective outcomes. This project’s goal was to develop and pilot test an evaluation system for the Walking Mountains Science Center to assess early childhood program outcomes and inform program improvements. Two questionnaires were created and pilot tested, one administered immediately following each program and one emailed to families one month later. Results from the pilot test suggest that at least one program is meeting its goals. However there is room to strengthen the program to increase its likelihood to achieve stewardship and sustainability goals. Unfortunately, the small number of responses to the retention questionnaire made it impossible to assess to if parents followed through on their intentions. Because Walking Mountains is interested in behavioral changes as a result of the program, they will need to investigate how to enhance participation in retention questionnaires. In addition to the pilot testing post-program and program-retention questionnaires, this practicum developed an evaluation plan for Walking Mountains to allow it to collect and analyze program evaluation data on an on-going basis.
- Nicole Muench, MS Behavior, Education and Communication