Independent, third-party assessment that quantifies accomplishments and identifies areas for improvement is what can transform a good program into an exceptional one. And investigating what makes full-time-learning programs work can lead us to that new day for learning, when all kids have access to the people and programs they need to flourish.
In the year 2000, the NatureMapping program utilized an outside evaluator to appraise its program, assessing multiple grade levels and schools and studying the effects of the program on its student participants, their schools, and their communities.
Results were statistically analyzed, finding that the program increased students' awareness and knowledge of their natural environments more than other outdoor education or community service activities. The study also found that participation in the program strengthened the relationship between the schools and their communities.
Here are some examples of the study's findings:
Students, seeing their data as useful to others, exhibited a heightened sense of stewardship; and teachers reported increased effort from students because of this effect.
Teachers experienced real-life learning in the program because it employed goals and objectives beyond what is expected in the classroom.
Teachers observed a positive affect on students who did not traditionally excel in the classroom.