Target population metrics

Refer to the target population definition in your Theory of Change – the step where you define, in specific and measurable terms, the population for whom you will hold yourself accountable for achieving desired outcomes.

If you haven't already defined your program's target population, start here with the Defining the Target Population worksheet 1B from Phase 1 of the toolkit.
Guiding Questions

  • What measures will identify characteristics of the target population that might affect program outcomes?
  • Which of these measures and characteristics are (just) interesting, and which are crucial to understanding what is working and what could be improved?


If you want to compare outcomes for different subgroups, collect descriptive data on program participants as they start in the program. Such data are usually collected in intake or assessment forms, attendance sheets, case management logs, etc.

Sample Target Population Metrics
Demographic characteristics
  • Age
  • Gender
  • Race/Ethnicity
  • Socioeconomic status
  • Grade level
Risks and resiliency factors
  • Foster care system
  • Juvenile justice
  • Substance use
  • Social supports
Baseline conditions
  • Fear of the outdoors
  • Little to no experience in the outdoors
  • Failing in math or science

Program Participation Metrics

Program participation metrics vary by program but often include:
  • Number of hours (and/or days) of exposure to a conservation curriculum
  • Number and type of outdoor activities completed
  • Percent of curriculum material covered
  • Span of time (e.g., 90 days, six months, one year) in the program
  • Activity mix (e.g., classroom, experiential, online)
  • Retention in the program over time

Photo credit: Student Conservation Association

Guiding Questions

  • What levels and types of participation in various components of the program are necessary to achieve outcomes?
  • How will we track program participation at the individual participant level?


If you want to compare outcomes among participants by varying levels of dosage during data analysis, define subgroups by levels of dosage and put participants into each subgroup, and then look at how results for each subgroup compare.

Click on the image below to access the
Target Population and Program Participation Metrics worksheets