During the ACEWild project, partner countries used a variety of formative and summative assessment techniques to evaluate the impacts of the outdoor learning programmes and inform the planning of activities. Due to the small numbers of students in the outdoor learning groups (normally 15 students or less), applying statistical tests to the data collected would have been inappropriate. However, the tools used did provide valuable insights into student behaviour, attitudes and progress, which allowed teachers to focus on individual needs and develop more targeted learning plans for their students. The information gathered also triggered important conversations between teachers, students and parents/carers which may not have taken place otherwise.
Which tool you use with your group will depend on:
• what you want to measure (and why)
• what you feel comfortable using with your students, and
• how much time you realistically have to undertake the evaluation process and follow up analysis
In our analysis of each tool, we present our own experiences as outdoor practitioners, not expert researchers, which may help guide your choice. Please use the left hand menu to navigate through the resources.
Practitioners found it very helpful to make an initial pre-programme assessment of pupil needs so they had the information they needed to a) decide which pupils would most benefit from participating in an outdoor learning programme b) make decisions about the content and structure of the course c) provide a baseline for measuring impact and progress and d) evaluate the effectiveness of chosen interventions.
Throughout any ACEWild type activities diverse approaches to assessment should be embedded – as with any learning programme.
Formative assessment – Collection of information about students’ learning to estimate what has been learned so as to enable future planning e.g. questioning, formative marking, self-assessment, peer-assessment, feedback and response.
Summative assessment – Collection of evidence that gives an overall summary of learning (over a specific period of time) that can be shared with parents and others e.g tests, synoptic assessment (problem solving/decision making), extended writing.
Diagnostic assessment – An exploration into how a student’s progress is being affected by a particular difficulty to enable the creation of appropriate support measures.