Learning for Action: The Environmental Education Better Results Toolkit

    Mission statement 

    The Environmental Education Better Results Toolkit strengthens EE programming and improves outcomes through data-driven measurement, reflection, and learning. The toolkit grew out of on-the-ground practice: 17 EE organizations engaged in a three-year capacity-building initiative (LEAPS, Leadership and Evaluation to Advance Program Success) funded by the S. D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation and led by Learning for Action (LFA). The toolkit is a compilation of resources on how to become a stronger learning organization and represents an enduring contribution in support of effective EE programming.

    Core focus area 

    The Better Results Toolkit leads organizations through a three-phase process of defining its theory of change, developing a measurement plan, and then using data to strengthen programs.

    • Phase 1 – Create Your Theory of Change: Strengthen and document program design, then identify the information needed to know what is working and what could be improved. Through developing a Theory of Change, programs get clear and specific about: 1) who they are serving (the target population for whom you will hold yourself accountable for results), 2) what each participant must receive in the program in order to achieve results, 3) why the program is designed as it is (i.e., what needs it is addressing), and 4) to what ends the program seeks to achieve (outcomes). Clarity and specificity pave the way for developing an approach to measurement.

    • Phase 2 – Develop Your Measurement Plan: Design the tools and processes for collecting data with an eye for insights into whether the intended target population is being reached, if a program is being implemented as planned, and if it is achieving the outcomes in the Theory of Change. This is the most technical part of the learning process: developing data collection instruments and collecting data for reflection and use. The Toolkit first helps you know what kinds of tools you will need to collect data on your Theory of Change and then walks you through how to develop an array of tools including surveys, interview and focus group protocols, and observation rubrics.

    • Phase 3 – Engage in Continuous Improvement: Data are only as valuable as they are useful – and actually put to use. Learn how to analyze and use data for reflection on program improvements that can lead to better results, as well as how to engage members of your team in data review and reflection processes. This phase of the Better Results process also provides guidance on how to report and communicate about findings and results to external audiences.

    Through instruction, tips, examples, worksheets, and links to other resources along each step of the journey, the Toolkit provides the information needed to assess program impacts and improve outcomes.

    Organizations can achieve the following outcomes through engagement with the Better Results Toolkit:

    1. Increased knowledge of and facility with the building blocks of measurement and learning;
    2. Strengthened program models and research-grounded theories of change (TOC);
    3. Improved data analysis and reporting capabilities; and
    4. Stronger cultures of learning as evidenced by new or improved data inquiry and review practices and data-informed decision-making.