Indigenous Evaluation

The purpose of this guide is to support teachers in 1) facilitating participatory evaluation with their students, 2) self-reflecting on their own teaching of the lesson, 3) evaluating the effectiveness of the curriculum itself, and 4) collecting the results of these reflections. We hope that you will complete a facilitator survey in order to help us improve the curriculums as well as demonstrate their impact.

Introduction to Indigenous Evaluation

What is Indigenous evaluation? by Martell Hesketh (Michel First Nation)

As more educators incorporate Indigenous plant and food curricula into their teaching, we need culturally appropriate and engaging ways of evaluating these programs. Now we know the word “evaluation” may come with a lot of baggage but evaluating the impact of these Indigenous plants and food curricula is critical to continue spreading this knowledge and advocating for funding and resources. Indigenous evaluation is a way of approaching evaluation that asserts Native people have always collected data and conducted evaluation for the benefit of their communities. It recognizes Indigenous ways of knowing such as stories, art, and conversations as equally valid as “western” ways of knowing like surveys, interviews, and focus groups. Indigenous evaluation is not just a specific type of survey or interview method, instead it is a collection of values that guides the entire evaluation process. At Urban Indian Health Institute our Indigenous evaluation framework consists of four core principles:

  • Community is created wherever Native people are: evaluation starts in the creation of these communities.
  • Resilient and strength-based: the tools of evaluation are used to identify solutions by and for the community.
  • Decolonizing data: rigorous data must be collected and used with the intent to benefit urban Indian communities.
  • Centering of the community: community involvement in evaluation is crucial to the process of reclaiming data, understanding how the work is valuable, and including community perspectives.
We used logic models to develop many of our curricula in this Portal. However, we have changed the standard logic model format. Here, we are sharing the logic model developed for the Native Plants and Foods Curriculum Portal.
The visual Logic Model can be viewed full size as a JPG here and a PDF here

The intention of the curricula in this portal is that learners and participants will experience the following outcomes: Increased Knowledge and Skill, Increased Sense of Community (includes relationships between and among humans, plants, animals, and the environment), and Increased Sense of Season and Place. Additionally, we hope the curriculum will promote Culturally Responsive Teaching and be Adaptable to various learning environments, ages, cultures, abilities, and knowledge sources.


These outcomes are represented in a visual Logic Model here. We used logic models to develop many of our curricula in this Portal. However, we have changed the standard logic model format. Here, we are sharing the logic model developed for the Native Plants and Foods Curriculum Portal.

Evaluation Activities

We have included some simple participatory evaluation activities that you and your students can use to evaluate and reflect on your learning. Be transparent with students as to how their reflections will be used and/or shared with others before doing evaluation. If the workshop is part of a formal research project, make sure to follow the appropriate research protocols such as obtaining consent (verbal/written). We invite you to record results of these activities in the evaluation feedback form at the end of this document.

  1. Opening Circle and Check-ins:
    In addition to building a sense of community, opening circles can support students in surfacing the knowledge or attitudes they have about a certain subject while warming up their bodies and brains for the activity to come. An opening circle is also a place to set intentions for the day, establish the relevance of the lesson at hand, and hear participants’ interests that can guide session facilitation. See the Tend, Gather and Grow Teacher Guide for more check-in questions and games for your opening circle.
    • What are you most excited to learn about today?
    • If your mood was a season/weather system today, what would it be and why?
    • What is something you appreciate about spring/summer/fall/winter?
    • Can you demonstrate a stretch that we will all follow, and tell us how you are doing physically and emotionally today?
  2. Evaluation Activities:
    Besides tests and surveys, there are ways to assess student learning and engagement that promote self-reflection, learning, connection, and playfulness.
    • Spectrum – This activity can serve as an icebreaker, pre-assessment, or reflective evaluation activity. Students express their answers by physically moving themselves somewhere along an imaginary line. For example: “How much did you know about this topic before our workshop – with ‘I have never heard of it’ on one end of the spectrum and ‘I am an expert’ on the other. Now that the workshop is over, where would you put yourself?” (You can adapt this activity for online workshops using survey platforms like Poll Everywhere).
    • Thumbs up/Thumbs down – This is a quick way to assess where students are with an activity or with information. The teacher asks students to use their thumb to indicate their agreement or disagreement with a question.
    • Finger (Likert) Scale – Similarly, this activity asks students to rate their experience using a 1–4 scale indicated by holding up any number of fingers.
    • Artwork – Ask students to draw pictures of what they knew before and then after a lesson or to draw how they felt before and after a lesson.
    • Teaching Others – Students can demonstrate their learning by teaching others either verbally during the lesson itself, later to other younger or newer students, and/or through visual posters that can be shared with a broader audience.
  3. Outcome Statements
    These statements can be used with one of the first three evaluation activities listed above as well as closing circles. Please adapt statements to be age appropriate; we provide an example with the first question.
    • I feel a greater sense of community after our workshop. Young children: I made a new friend today.
    • I am more aware of seasonal changes and noticing plants/animals/landscapes after our time together today.
    • I learned specific ways that plants can teach me to be more resilient.
    • I feel like I could teach someone about what we learned today.
    • I made progress towards my own personal learning goal for today (or for the course or year).
  4. Closing Circles:
    Closings help mark the end of group learning time. This is where we once again hear each student’s voice, reflect on what we have learned, and honor the time we have spent together. Closing circles are an opportunity to collect information for evaluation including which aspects of learning activities resonated or were less engaging for participants. Record answers on the evaluation form at the end of this document.
    • Rock, Stick, Leaf – Ask students to reflect on the following questions. “What rocked about today? What is going to stick with you? What is a piece of wisdom or feedback that you want to ‘leaf’ behind?” If you are short on time or working with young children, choose rock, stick, OR leaf.
    • Roses and Thorns – Ask students to name something they appreciated about the day or about someone else (rose), and one thing that challenged them (thorn). A thorn can be something that questions our assumptions, pushes our boundaries, or helps us to protect ourselves.
    • Give Back – Ask each student to share back one thing they appreciated or learned in the workshop. This is a great activity when you have a guest speaker.

Facilitator Survey

In addition to learning from participants, we engage our activity facilitators in evaluation, to learn from them what worked, and how they adapted the curriculum to their needs.

We invite users of the curricula on this Portal to complete our Facilitator Survey. You can use this form to provide information on the class/activity you taught. This lets us know how our curricula are meeting your needs. You can also receive copies of your responses each time, so you can collect your own evaluation information. We only use this information for evaluation purposes – your individual information will NOT be shared.


Through this work, we found various helpful evaluation strategies and methods as well as other Indigenous evaluation toolkits, resources, and publications. We hope these resources help you on your evaluation journey.

  1. Native Plants and Foods Story Map. Knowledge of how to stay healthy and well through traditional foods and medicines has been passed down through generations of Indigenous Peoples in Coast Salish communities and beyond. In this story map, we document the work that educators, Elders, and community members are doing through programs and partnerships. We believe that sharing these stories can help spread good health and wellness among networks of Indigenous Communities. We hope it brings you inspiration, new ideas, and opportunities for collaboration!
  2. Native Plants and Foods Network. In this social network analysis, we document some of the many connections that support our Indigenous plants and food education. So far, we have documented over 200 connections throughout the United States and beyond. You can read about our efforts in this article, and view the analysis here.
  3. Indigenous logic model. With the intention of centering Indigenous culture at all levels of our work, including evaluation, our team created a visual logic model that coalesces Cascadia region Indigenous values and environmental sustainability learning outcomes.
  4. Indigenous Evaluation Resources
  5. Indigenous Evaluation Publications