Girls Energy Conservation Corps Girl Scout Summative Evaluation
GECCo was designed for Junior and Cadette Girl Scout troops. Using the patch structure used in Girl Scouts, the TERC team developed six patches focused on energy conservation topics. Troops were expected to complete three patch activities and an additional “Energy Challenge” activity in order to earn each patch. Initially, 65 troops were recruited for the Field Test. Of those, 44 troops (38 Juniors and 26 Cadettes) completed the patches. Most troops who dropped out did so due to competing activities rather than because of a lack of interest. A total 483 girls (326 Juniors and 157 Cadettes) participated. While to total number of participating girls was below the goal of 570 girls for each Field Test year, it may reflect the reality of recruiting in an informal learning setting. Troops were expected to complete at least one patch, but had the option to complete all three patches for their level. The majority (84%) completed one patch. Program Goals Girls will: I.Increase their knowledge of the causes of climate change. II.Increase their energy conserving behaviors. III.Understand the power of working together to address an environmental problem. Evaluation design and methods Girl Scout Surveys Using a pre/post design, surveys were administered in person to participating girls. The focus was to assess how the patch activities affected girls’ knowledge, attitudes, motivation, behaviors, and confidence in saving energy and spreading the word about conserving energy. Both pre and post surveys were completed during troop time under the oversight of the troop leader. Post-patch surveys were administered after each patch. Survey completion rates for all girls combined were 78%. Overall, the completion rate is about the expected rate for this data collection method. Troop Leader Surveys Troop leader surveys provided a deeper understanding of: 1) the patch experience; 2) patch effects on troop leaders’ knowledge, attitudes and behaviors; 3) perceptions of impacts on the girl scouts. Troop leader surveys were administered online after Garibay Group received a troop’s completed post-patch surveys. 63 troop leaders completed the survey for a response rate of 90%. Parent Surveys We used parent surveys to triangulate girls’ self-report on energy conservation activities. A total of 243 parents completed online surveys for a 69% response rate. Outcomes 1. Increase Knowledge About Climate Change Overall, girl scouts are deepening their understanding of climate change through the GECCo patch activities. As expected, younger-aged Juniors come into the patch activities with less knowledge about climate change compared to Cadettes. Statistical tests show significant increases Juniors’ composite scores after completing one patch. While Cadettes appear to have increased their composite scores after completing one patch, statistical tests failed to show significant increases. 2. Increase in Energy Conserving Behaviors The largest impact of the GECCo patch activities appears to be an increase in energy conservation behaviors for both the girls and the troop leaders. While it is beyond the capacity of this particular evaluation to determine how long the energy conservation behaviors will last, we do have clear evidence that both the girls and troop leaders increased their behaviors while completing the patch materials The array of behavioral change constructs we measured suggest that Juniors have the knowledge, identity/self-efficacy, and motivation to maintain their own energy saving actions, but not to help others save energy. However, their limited understanding of how energy use is linked to climate change may weaken the sustainability of their actions over time. Overall, we think the outcomes are a realistic expectation for girls of this age to accomplish over two girl scout meetings. Like the Juniors, Cadettes also saw increases in energy saving behaviors for specific actions. Despite failures to show climate change knowledge gains, the Cadettes still accomplished realistic behavior change outcomes for the duration of the patch activities. Our findings also bring to light how developmental differences may be seen when using adult-tested behavior change models and constructs for youth. These differences are important to deconstruct in future studies to apply to youth behavioral change models and theories. 3. Understanding the Power of Working Together to Reduce Climate Change As a whole, we think the GECCo program effectively met their goals for increasing girls’ awareness and understanding of how working together in making small energy savings can have a large impact on climate change. Our observations and review of the program structure suggest small revisions of the patch requirements and program materials to increase the learning around climate change across the patches and Girl Scout levels.