Climate Ed Eval Week: Ann Martin on Building a Community of Climate Education Evaluators

Hi there! I’m Ann Martin, a postdoctoral fellow and internal evaluator with NASA Innovations in Climate Education, which funds climate education projects as part of NASA’s Minority University Research and Education Program (MUREP). I’m also part of a cross-agency collaboration involving sister programs at the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

This collaboration represents more than 100 projects that have received funding to conduct climate education projects in formal and informal environments; each project funds its own evaluator and determines its own evaluation plan. As part of that tri-agency effort, I’ve helped to facilitate a community of these evaluators. Throughout this week, the AEA365 blog will feature posts from members of our community, and what we’ve learned about evaluation of climate education.

This tri-agency evaluation group is entirely grassroots, depends on the efforts of its members, and functions with extremely limited resources. To kick off Climate Ed Eval Week, I’ll be sharing some thoughts on how to help a community like this work.

Lesson Learned: In April 2012, a large group of almost 40 tri-agency evaluators and funded project leaders got together to work on a common evaluation vision for climate education. The result was a draft logic model describing our portfolio of diverse projects. We found that the process of drafting the model, and negotiating which terms and concepts belonged, was as useful as the product itself. Each project has its own goals, and we worked together to resolve and align those into a representation of what the three agencies are working towards. This also started a long-term conversation, and helped us to identify challenges and opportunities. We’ve also found that evaluators are hungry for a place to share and find evaluation resources, instruments, and reports relevant to their sphere of interest – a place that won’t go away when funding does. We’re seeking solutions to this!

Cool Trick: While meeting in-person got our grassroots evaluation group off to a roaring start, it’s tough to get together. Instead, we take advantage of opportunities to hold lunches or meetings at conferences like AEA, AERA, and AGU (going on right now!). This also helps us bring new evaluators and their perspectives into the fold.

Hot Tip: Online collaboration tools help us keep the community going. Our group uses Google Drive to share documents, and we’ve also looked into Sign Up Genius. This handy service allows participants to sign up for tasks (instead of time slots, like Doodle does).

Get Involved: If your evaluation work relates to climate education, and you would like to learn more, contact me at Also, consider joining the STEM Education & Training TIG!

The American Evaluation Association is celebrating Climate Education Evaluators week. The contributions all this week to aea365 come from members who work in a Tri-Agency Climate Education Evaluators group. Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

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