Evaluation of New Hampshire Education & Environment Team Summer Institute

Lesure, Beth


Survey results reporting on intensive weeklong summer institutes for teachers showed an overall increase in all four dimensions of teacher practice measured. Specifically, the evaluation found desired change in teacher practice as follows:

  1. Greater study of natural science.  Over 95% of participants reported an increase in knowledge for teaching about the local environment and an increase in ability to teach natural science concepts and topics to their students. In addition, participants reported that participation in the institute influenced their awareness, knowledge, and appreciate for New Hampshire's natural landscape.
  2. Greater use of interdisciplinary strategies and hands-on investigations. Respondents reported that the summer institute had a positive effect on their teaching natural science in conjunction with other disciplines. In addition, respondents reported that more of their natural science lessons are being taught "hands-on".
  3. Greater use of environmental education curriculum materials in designing units.  Respondents are better able to align environmental education curriculum materials with their school's curriculum goals.
    • A majority of respondents felt prepared to lead activities from Project Learning Tree, Project WET, Project WILD, and Homes for Wildlife.
    • Approximately half of respondents felt prepared to lead protocols from the GLOBE Program.When designing new units, the majority of respondents include activities from PLT, WET, and/or WILD, while approximately one-third of respondents include activities from GLOBE and/or Homes for Wildlife.
    • Participants value the resources and resource professionals introduced to them through the institute and follow-up workshops.
  4. Greater use of school grounds or other local natural areas.  Nearly all respondents reported that involvement in the summer institute has helped them to see the outdoors as a natural extension of the classroom.

Respondents reported two additional values not targeted in this evaluation.

  1. Value in collaboration with other teachers.  Several respondents commented on the value of collaborating with other teachers at the institute and back at school. NHEET prefers that teachers participate as part of a school team.  This comment supports the value of this approach.
  2. Continued communication between NHEET and institute participants.  Respondents commented on the value of continued communication between NHEET and institute teachers. Additional research into follow-up workshop attendance may elicit connections between participants in follow-up workshops and survey results.

The evaluation was conducted in the fall of 2006 to measure the extent of change in teacher practices as a result of a teacher's participation in the summer institute.  The institute is designed to foster change in teacher practice for integrating natural science in a PreK-8 curriculum.  The evaluation tool was a computer-based survey.  All 84 participants in the summer institutes for the years 2003-2006 were surveyed; a response rate of 50% was achieved.

The New Hampshire Education and Environment Team (NHEET) sponsors the summer institute annually.  NHEET team members include:

  • New Hampshire Project Learning Tree
  • Project WET at the NH Department of Environmental Services
  • Project WILD and WILD Aquatic at the NH Fish & Game Department
  • Homes for Wildlife at the NH Fish & Game Department
  • GLOBE Program at the University of New Hampshire
  • USDA Forest Service, State & Private Forestry Conservation Education Program
  • USDA Forest Service, White Mountain National Forest Conservation Education Program



Pedagogical Area
  • environmental education
Delivery Area
  • out of school time/after school
  • professional development
Outcome Area
  • environmental knowledge, attitude and awareness
  • stewardship behavior
  • career awareness
  • environmental change
  • teacher practice
Participant Area
  • educator
  • program
Age Area
  • adult