The easiest way to improve you program from one class to the next is to ask your participants how you did. Post program surveys (administered after a session, activity, or program) are used to determine if specific learning objectives were met. Post program surveys can also help you determine if you meet educational goals of the program. Surveys can be hard copy (paper) or administered using off-the-shelf survey programs like SurveyMonkey. Examples of other programs' surveys as well as a series of surveys developed by Responsive Management specifically for new, adult, food-motivated programs can be found below in the resources section of this page.
Very good overviews of various evaluation tools can be found in Tools & Methods of Program Evaluation and Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundations’s Best Practices Guide to Program Evaluation for Aquatic Educators and the Alumni Reflections on Wisconsin’s “Hunting for Sustainability” Course, 2012 & 2013 in the resources section below. In addition, Georgia Department of Natural Resources’ Wildlife Resources Division has customized an evaluation template that is attached below for their “Hunt and Learn” program.
Check participants’ understanding of program concepts, skill development, and comfort level with hunting and hunting related activities. Assessment can be formal or informal. Informal assessments of skills can be FUN exercises. Be creative in designing assessments to avoid “survey fatigue.” In addition, using different types of assessment tools, and measuring specific components provides better information about whether a program accomplishes stated goals and objectives. (Every assessment tool has biases and limitations, so using only one assessment tool can lead to incorrect conclusions.)
Additional information on program evaluation can be found in Conservation Measures Partnership’s The Open Standards for the Practice of Conservation, Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation’s Best Practices Workbook for Boating, Fishing and Aquatic Resources Stewardship Education and Best Practices Guide to Program Evaluation for Aquatic Educators, and National Shooting Sports Foundation’s Best Practices Workbook for Hunting and Shooting Recruitment and Retention.
A copy of a recent Georgia post program survey is attached to this article as an example.
You will also want to check out the RBFF’s Evaluation Guide as a resource.