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Cornell Lab of Ornithology


Measure Effects: How-to


Think about evaluation from the outset:

  • embed evaluation into project design, rather than having it be an "afterthought"
  • know project effectiveness will be measured in terms of project goals
  • have "SMART" goals
    • Specific
    • Measurable
    • Achievable
    • Realistic
    • Timely
  • explicitly identify the demographics of the project's audience
  • use the impact categories outlined in the NSF Framework for Evaluating Informal Science Education (Friedman et al. 2008)
    • Knowledge
    • Engagement
    • Skills
    • Attitudes
    • Behavior
    • Other

Capture evaluation through the entire project:

  • use software tools to track data collection/reporting steps
  • compile and publishing back-end "lessons learned" by staff and volunteers


Follow appropriate measures for project evaluation:

  • obtain consent where necessary from all persons to be interviewed, surveyed, etc.
    • check with your institutions and partners about set guidelines for informed consent
    • know how consent guidelines differ for participating minors
  • have a strong research design
    • understanding potential biases
    • knowing necessary sample size
    • consulting with a statistician when necessary
  • consider working with a professional evaluator
  • explore tools and resources available online


Have any How-to ideas for this step?  Soon you will be able to share them through our discussion forum.


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