A Sustainable Evaluation Framework and Its Application

Powell, Robert B.

This article presents a framework for developing internally sustainable evaluation systems for environmental education organizations, although the framework can be applied to other types of organizations. The authors developed a sustainable evaluation framework (SEF) with the intent of creating an evaluation system that could be self administered by the staff of an environmental education organization in perpetuity. Key components of the framework include that it is utilization-focused (designed specifically for the needs of its users), participatory (empowering the users at each step of the design and implementation process), theory-driven (employing logic modeling and consulting relevant literature for concept clarification), and consumer-based (directly addressing the needs of probable audiences of evaluation results). 

The article illustrates the evaluation framework and its key outcomes using a case study from the Great Smoky Mountains Institute at Tremont (GSMIT), where the authors facilitated the development of an evaluation system. In addition to the creation of a credible, adaptable, and sustainable system, outcomes of the framework's implementation included clarification of organizational goals, enhanced organizational commitment from staff, professional development, and new prospects for adaptive management.

Pedagogical Area
  • environmental education
  • outdoor education, experiential education
Delivery Area
  • on site day programs (nature center, farm, etc.)
  • professional development
Participant Area
  • program
  • organization