Europlanet Evaluation Toolkit
Europlanet has developed a dedicated evaluation toolkit to empower outreach providers and educators in measuring and appraising the impact of their activities. This toolkit is intended to provide advice and resources that can be simply and easily integrated into normal outreach and education activities.
We are not saying you have to evaluate *all* your outreach and education work! But if you do decide to do some evaluation we want to help ensure it goes as smoothly as possible.
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The Europlanet Evaluation Toolkit has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 871149 (Europlanet 2024 RI) and 654208 (Europlanet 2020 RI).
What is evaluation?
Evaluation is a systematic process designed to help you better understand – and improve – your participants’ experience of your outreach activities. It involves collecting information (for example feedback, observations or quiz results) and reflecting on what worked well, what could be improved, and what changed for the people involved as a result of their participation.
Do you want to improve your activity? Provide evidence of knowledge gained? Identify Generic Learning Outcomes? Or simply celebrate what you have achieved? There are lots of good reasons for evaluating your work. The Europlanet Evaluation Toolkit helps you work out how best to do this.
Planning your evaluation
What do you want to find out? How will you analyse and use the information? What resources (time/budget) do you have available? Are there partners you could be working with and are there ethical issues you need to consider?
Answering these questions will help you design your approach and work out how to make most efficient use of time and resources.
Top tips for a successful evaluation process
Interested in maximising the success of your outreach evaluation? These Top Tips have been divided into categories according to the various stages of conducting an evaluation, though we do recommend reading them all at the start!
Introducing the tools
Two types of tools are available: tools to help you collect data and techniques to help you analyse what your data is telling you. Different tools are appropriate for different audiences (e.g. primary, secondary, interested adult, general public), for different types of environment and activity (e.g. drop-in, interactive workshop, ongoing series, lecture/presentation or online) and are grouped according to when they might best be used (during, beginning/end, or after an event).
Choosing the right tool
What do you want to find out? How will you use that information? What resource (time/budget) do you have available? What is the context for your activity? How will you analyse the data that you collect? Should you consider working in partnership with others? Are there any ethical issues you need to consider?
These are all things to think about when choosing the right evaluation tool for your activity.
Click on the individual tools below to find out more about them, or see the interactive tool selector to find out about which tools may work best for the activities that you are planning.
Browse data collection tools
Analysing your data
Once you’ve collected your data using the tools, you’ll need to analyse it. Learn how to carry out a basic analysis of closed-response data and how to prepare and analyse qualitative data from open-ended questions.
Browse data analysis tools
Evaluation case studies
Members of the Europlanet community have generously provided details of how they applied such tools in their own evaluation of outreach activities. These case study examples include information about the event context, how data was actually collected and analysed and what conclusions were reached, based on the data gathered.
- Teacher training workshop (NUCLIO, Portugal) using the Mentimeter tool
- School trip to a museum (Science Museum, UK) using the Snapshot interviews tool
- Science café / public lecture (Faculty of Science, Charles University in Prague / Teplice Planetarium, Czech Republic) using the Pre-post quizzes tool
- Drop-in demonstrations (Cornwall Sea to Stars, UK) using the Geographic location maps tool
- Website evaluation (Karen Bultitude, Jen DeWitt, UK) using the Three words tool
- Astronomy festival (Your Universe, UCL, UK) using the Post event surveys tool
If you would like to contribute a case study about your own use of the tools to evaluate an activity, we would love to hear from you! Please contact Anita Heward at: firstname.lastname@example.org
We have produced some video clips and webinars with quick overviews and more in-depth discussions about the content of the toolkit and approaches to evaluation.
Within the Europlanet Evaluation Toolkit we’ve highlighted key content and practical tools that are most likely to be of interest to the majority of Europlanet members involved in delivering outreach activities. However there are plenty of other good evaluation resources available for anyone who wants to take this further.
About the toolkit
The toolkit has been developed by professional outreach evaluators Karen Bultitude and Jennifer DeWitt (UCL, UK). Initially, a series of focus groups and scoping discussions were held with members of the planetary science community that are active in outreach in order to determine what they wanted from such a toolkit, and what sort of tools would be of most interest. A shortlist of tools was developed based on these discussions, with volunteers testing out the tool instructions once they were drafted.
If you have any comments, feedback or questions about the Europlanet Evaluation Toolkit, please contact Anita Heward.