Step 1: Describe intervention

Spelling out exactly what you do, specifying the intervention's aims, content, and expected outcomes

I would say MOST interventions are rather superficial or else cognitive in nature. They try to change attitudes but not teach actual behaviours. The most effective I've seen teach actual skills, practice, and provide environmental supports that are ongoing (parents, teachers).

An essential first step when developing an evaluation is to describe exactly what the intervention entails. Who does it target and why? What activities are involved? Who delivers it, how, and where? What are its key features and specific goals (both short and long-term)? What exactly are you teaching or promoting (e.g., what kind of knowledge, attitudes, skills, etc)? What changes are anticipated in children/young people as a result of participating?

This may well be a straightforward process if the intervention has been developed to improve one aspect of children’s interactions with animals (e.g., build knowledge of welfare needs). However, if it is more complex, has multiple facets and goals, or is adapted to the specific needs of different recipients, it may be more difficult to describe them in a way that fully captures what you are doing. This can be a barrier when trying to communicate with others (e.g., funders, stakeholders) about the work that is being carried out. The description should be detailed but not overly complex. It may help to separate out different elements and highlight how these are designed to produce specific outcomes. This will form the basis of a logic model, described in the next section.

It is useful to adopt a structured approach to document the whole process of evaluation. Using templates often helps to save time. The Template for Intervention Description and Replication framework (TIDieR) (Hoffman et al., 2014) is a useful resource for this initial part of the process, and provides a checklist of different elements to consider. The accompanying guide provides an explanation and elaboration of each item:

  • The intervention name
  • The rationale or theory underpinning the intervention
  • Physical materials provided to participants
  • Procedures or activities involved in the intervention
  • Details of who delivers each aspect of the intervention
  • The mode of delivery (e.g., face to face, in groups or individually, online)
  • Where the intervention takes place
  • How often the intervention is delivered and over what period
  • Whether any aspect of the intervention is tailored to certain participants

We have also designed a template specifically for describing an animal welfare education intervention. The first version below is a one-page pdf checklist. The second is a four-page template that can either be completed in Word, or printed off and filled in by hand. This may be useful when discussing with the intervention/evaluation team or key stakeholders.

Checklist/template for describing an intervention




Describing an intervention in detail is not only important for evaluation, it also allows organisations to communicate more effectively with schools, giving them a clear idea about what is being offered and how it might fit with other areas of the curriculum.  It is important to acknowledge that in the process of reflecting on and refining an intervention, this description will need to be revised. It is useful to document changes, as this in itself shows the evolution of a programme, highlighting for internal and external use, knowledge that has been gained about (a) how to intervene most successfully , and (b) how to overcome any obstacles that are typically encounter

The next stage