Developing metrics to evaluate the impact of specific lessons is as important as it is difficult. How does one measure the efficacy of curriculum that is so heavily dependent on an individual teacher’s talents to communicate, impact and inspire?
Findings & Recommendations
The number of full-time energy educators confirmed as currently working in Alaska is four, and three are employed by REAP. Historically, the dominant strategy employed by REAP’s energy educators has been to reach as many students as possible.
- Continue to develop an alternative outreach strategy: a deeper, more focused approach that seeks more contact with fewer students over a longer period of time.
The number of classrooms, students and teachers touched through the AK EnergySmart and Wind for Schools programs by REAP’s energy educators are recorded. Energy lessons delivered by classroom teachers and other instructors in the state are not tracked in any easily discernible way. The number of lessons downloaded from the AK EnergySmart website and the number of teachers earning CTE credits for energy education training sessions are tracked. Less available is the data concerning which particular lessons teachers are choosing to deliver from within AK EnergySmart upon completion of curriculum training, and how often these lessons are delivered.
- Utilize software such as Google Analytics in tracking as much quantitative data as is relevant when lessons are downloaded from the AK EnergySmart website. Formulate an efficient outreach strategy to contact teachers likely to have been exposed to energy education training and solicit data through questionnaires. Utilize incentives to encourage teachers and administrators to respond in a full and timely manner.
Combined grade level classrooms, typical of rural Alaska, utilize curricula differently than traditional classrooms segregated by grade level. Specific energy lessons are likely to differ in application and impact based on classroom composition; curricula are rarely developed with these mixed classrooms in mind.
- Rural Alaskan teachers, administrators and relevant networks serving this demographic might be consulted as to the dynamics of mixed grade level classrooms and the types of lessons that are best suited for these environments.
There is no baseline energy literacy metric for Alaskan students from which to measure improvement after exposure to specific curriculum. Further, there is very little quantitative or qualitative data that might allow for a comprehensive evaluation of the impact of curriculum and energy education efforts in Alaska.
- In 2017, the National Energy Foundation conducted a nationwide survey of high school students – an energy literacy assessment questionnaire. The survey consisted of three blocks: Behaviors, Energy Literacy Concepts, and Attitudes. In addition, a growing body of work examining best practices in constructing energy literacy surveys is readily available.
- REAP is in the process of adapting this student friendly questionnaire to develop Alaska specific questions for distribution in Alaskan classrooms. Before/After surveys could also be deployed. REAP can then compare scores of students who have been exposed to REAP’s energy literacy offerings with students/classrooms that have not yet been exposed. Efforts to prioritize which lessons might best be improved, modified or in some cases replaced would benefit from such data collection.
- Experiential surveys for both teachers and students would be beneficial to develop qualitative data on specific energy lessons.
- Separate surveys and informal interviews could be deployed to improve and evaluate E-learning/distance lessons.
- Energy educators, STEM instructors and curriculum developers could be convened to discuss best practices and next steps to develop metrics for energy education in Alaska.