Facet 5: Research, adapt & develop

Research, adapt & develop appropriate resources, delivery methods & assessment tools

It is essential that intervention and evaluation resources, delivery methods and assessment tools are age-appropriate, child/adolescent-friendly, engaging, non-discriminatory, unambiguous, and closely relate to the specific goals and anticipated outcomes of the intervention. Many AWE teams develop their own materials, multi-media resources, computer games, and robotics, to support delivery, continually updating them to ensure they are still relevant and appealing. While this is critical, it is also valuable to identify which materials have worked well. These should be retained and the same process applied to examining how different delivery methods have been received. There is much emphasis now on interactive and peer learning, and many professionals felt it was important not to just talk to (at) children, but to ensure that sessions equip them with skills and a sense of responsibility, not just knowledge. Showing children the wonder of animals and inspiring them to find out more were also viewed as key to promoting change in behaviours.

The nature of what is covered in workshops or interventions is aiming for long term behaviour change, which may not be evident for several years. It would be easy enough to measure the recall of information related to animal welfare, but the true measure of effectiveness wouldn’t come until this either is or is not put into practice.

Key areas that concerned professionals in our study were how to gather robust evidence of change (particularly through use of survey methods), how to assess if change is sustained in the longer-term, and how to measure behavioural outcomes. The first step towards determining what to measure is the identification of clear outcomes. Then specific ‘indicators’ can be identified. These are “things you measure to find out whether you have made the differences you hoped to make (your outcomes). You need to look at all of your outcomes and come up with indicators for each.” (Evaluation Support Scotland). The document below provides guidance on this process.

Working out what to measure:


One of the problems facing practitioners is finding appropriate measures that align with the work they are carrying out. Often measurement tools used by academic researchers are not freely available or are difficult to locate. Accordingly, we have drawn together some published standardised measures of the following dimensions of child-animal interactions. Detailed descriptions and questions will shortly be provided in the Evaluation Measures Library.

  1. Pet ownership & attachment    
  2. Knowledge, attitudes & beliefs about animals
  3. Empathy & socio-emotional measures
  4. Human-animal interaction behaviours

It is possible to design new measures for inclusion (particularly useful if the aim is to enhance specific areas of knowledge or assess if children know what to do in certain situations). These should be piloted to ensure they are easy to respond to. With survey items, it may be possible for individual items to be grouped to form a ‘scale’ that can aid analysis. Another key challenge is the statistical analysis of data. We will shortly provide some guidance on this in the worked example - see Gathering robust evidence of change & impact.

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