Islandwood School Overnight Program (SOP) is a 4-day, 3-night residential school overnight program for 4th, 5th, and 6th grade students. The program works with schools to provide hands-on and inquiry-based learning experiences at the outdoor learning center and in the classroom, with a focus on watersheds, ecosystems, and team-building. The purpose of the evaluation was to explore and evaluate the outcomes of the SOP with respect to:
- Students’ personal development
- Classroom community
- Relationship with environment
- Environmental knowledge
- Attitudes towards learning
The evaluation was broken into two phases and used multiple qualitative and quantitative measurement tools that assess conceptual knowledge and attitudes including:
- Healthy Environment 3CM Cognitive Mapping Tool: An open-ended card-sorting technique used to assess knowledge structure related to a topic
- Handheld clicker questionnaire: A multiple-choice test using a handheld electronic device
- Survey (in phase 1): A pen and paper survey consisting of questions based on 5-point Likert scales, plus short-answer questions
- On-site narrative assessment tools (in phase 2): field assessments involving short-answer, open-ended questions embedded in a narrative form (e.g. pre-formed letter home or diary entry format).
The evaluation used a quasi-experimental design (use of control groups without random assignment) and a delayed-treatment design (classes attending program after data collection period were used as a control group). Results were used for internal reports (and thus program changes), grant applications, conference presentations, and journal articles. Data was also shared with school districts and parents.