Evaluation is an integral part of high-quality education programs. Evaluation is the systematic study and documentation of a project’s outcomes to improve its effectiveness, guide judgments about its impact, and/or inform decisions about its future. It can help you learn more about your audience’s level of understanding, needs, and issues as you plan your project; adjust and improve as you develop your project; and assess how well you are implementing your project.

B-WET National Evaluation System

B-WET has created a cross-region, internal evaluatin system to monitor program implementation and outcomes on an ongoing basis. Results of this evaluation will be used to make adjustments to B-WET Federal Funding Opportunities (FFOs) and activities in order to improve the program.

The evaluation system is designed to answer the following questions about B-WET:

MWEE Implementation Questions

  • To what extent do regional B-WET program support grantees in implementing Meaningful Watershed Educational Experiences (MWEEs)?
  • How are MWEEs implemented by grantees and teachers?

MWEE Outcome Questions

  • To what extent do B-WET-funded projects increase teachers' knowledge of waterhsed science concepts, their confidence in their ability to integrate MWEEs into their teaching practices, and the likelihood that they will implement high-quality MWEEs?
  • To what extent do B-WET-funded projects increase students' knowledge of watershed concepts, attitudes toward watersheds, inquiry and stewardship skills, and aspirations toward protecting watersheds?

As part of this evaluation system, recipients of B-WET Chesapeake grants and teacher-participants in grantees' professional development projects will be asked to voluntarily complete online questionnaires to provide evaluation data. The National Evaluation System is coordinated by NOAA's Office of Education. Comprehensive information about the system is available from the B-WET National program.

Evaluation Capacity Building Initiative--2011

In 2011, the NOAA Chesapeake Bay Office and Chesapeake Bay Trust partnered with evaluation professionals from the Institute for Learning Innovation (ILI) to offer training and technical assistance to environmental education providers. The goal was to build the capacity of organizations to adequately measure and demonstrate the impact of their education programs.This opportunity was open to organizations who provide Meaningful Watershed Educational Experiences for students and/or teacher professional development in the Chesapeake Bay region.

The initiative included an introductory workshop that focused on the basics of program evaluation and planning. This was followed by in depth one-on-one mentoring from ILI evaluators for select organizationsto assist them in the development of evluation plans or improvement of existing evaluations. For groups not involved with in depth mentoring, "as-needed" technical support was available from ILI. Finally, a follow-up workshop was held where initiative participants provided updates on their evaluation planning and had break-out sessions about topics such as analyzing survey results and developing logic models.

Information about the results if this initiative are available in the report on Evaluation Capacity-Building for NOAA B-WET and CBT Grantees.

Programmatic Chesapeake B-WET Evaluation--2007

NOAA, the Chesapeake Bay Trust, and the Keith Campbell Foundation commissioned an evaluation to determine whether the B-WET Chesapeake professional development and meaningful watershed educational experience programs were attaining short-term outcomes as measures of potential for a future citizenry committed to protecting the Bay. The evaluation was published in February 2007 (Executive Summary/Full Report). Measures evaluated were:

  • Teacher use of meaningful watershed educational experience practices
  • Student improvement in stewardship characteristics and academic achievement

The evaluation found that students increased in their knowledge of eceology, knowledge of actions to take to protect the environment, and intention to protect the environment. Teachers were found to be more confident about their ability to teach outdoors about the environment and more likely to do so.

Evaluating Your Environmental Education Project

The B-WET Program has developed a comprehensive set of guidance documents to assist grantees in evaluating their projects in accordance with NOAA education evaluation standards. While the B-WET Project Evaluation website (link below) highlights the California B-WET program, the information should assist B-WET Chesapeake applicants in developing a plan for evaluation as requested in the B-WET Federal Funding Opportunity. B-WET Chesapeake applicants should use the logic model format below rather than the format provided on the California B-WET evaluation site.

Grantees may also find the information on these sites useful as they develop evaluation strategies.