Student Impact

Student Impact

Each year, we evaluate the impact our programs have on student growth in 10 learning outcomes and publish the results in our annual Impact Report.

Rustic Pathways programs are intentionally-designed to encourage students to think critically while challenging them to grow personally. Our experienced Program Leaders work to facilitate meaningful discussion and reflection, and help students learn to amplify the positive impact travel can have on themselves and others.

Student Learning Outcomes

Focusing on these learning outcomes allows us to create programs that enable students to achieve personal growth and make a positive contribution to our world.

  1. Openness to New Ideas and Experiences
  2. Sense of Wonderment
  3. A Belief That All People are Connected by a Shared Humanity
  4. A Desire to Positively Impact the Lives of Others
  5. Empathy
  6. Self-awareness
  7. Humility
  8. Grit
  9. Independence
  10. Intercultural Competence

Student Learning Outcomes

of students experienced growth in at least one learning outcome after participating in a Rustic Pathways program in 2019.

Measuring Student Impact and Making Data-Driven Decisions

Our Student Impact Evaluation allows us to make data-driven decisions to improve our program design and execution to best deliver a meaningful and lasting learning experience. Data helps us decide which programs to create, refine existing programs, and better train Program Leaders to achieve maximum impact on students. Each year, we seek to improve our results in one to three target learning outcomes through purposeful adjustments to our programming.

student impact cycle at Rustic Pathways graphic

  • Student Learning Experience: During travel, students immerse in local culture, participate in community service, bond with new friends, and more. They also debrief with their groups and spend time reflecting to process what they’re learning and contextualize their experiences.
  • Student Impact Evaluation: Before and after travel, they complete the Student Impact Survey, which Rustic analyzes.
  • Program Development: That data informs not only program design and updates to existing programs, but shapes how we train the Program Leaders who facilitate these experiences for students.

The Results of Our 2019 Student Impact Evaluation

We evaluated how often students felt they embraced behaviors associated with our Student Learning Outcomes on a scale from one to six. The graph below shows results collected from evaluations before and immediately following 2019 summer programs to determine the percentage of students who experienced growth in each learning outcome.

results of Rustic Pathways 2018 student impact evaluation

Average Student Growth

We found that students grew in 10 of 10 Student Learning Outcomes when comparing responses before they traveled to immediately after their program.

student impact graphic

I think the program has empowered me to foster conversations. I don’t always stand up, like direct activism. I’m never the most outspoken. But I can do a lot behind the scenes in that respect. That’s where I kind of see my role, in debate and in just bringing things up whenever the situation arises. I do feel more empowered to do that than I did before the program.

Quote by: Adam Soliman Hamilton, New Jersey

Student Learning Outcomes Explained

The Student Learning Outcomes we hope to foster in students who travel with us are:

  1. Openness to new ideas and experiences. Eagerness and curiosity to learn from the
    perspectives of others and the ability to incorporate one’s own experiences into a lifelong quest for knowledge and growth.
  2. Sense of wonderment. The ability to be amazed and inspired by the world, from the small and seemingly mundane to the powerful and nearly impossible to understand; recognizing beauty in the unknown, while letting the world’s mysteries stir thoughtful questions and give rise to new meanings and understandings; a sense of awe as a driver of one’s passion and achievement.
  3. A belief that all people are connected by a shared humanity. Recognizing the innate value of any human being; embracing diversity, and believing that what unites us is stronger than what divides us; understanding the interconnectedness of one’s actions and the notion that individual actions can have global impact; the ability to connect local stories, struggles, and successes to larger structural and systemic issues facing the world.
  4. A desire to positively impact the lives of others. A drive to use one’s talents as a force for good in local and global communities; recognizing the power of a series of small actions towards a larger goal and contributing personal effort towards creating change.
  5. Empathy. The ability to not just “feel someone else’s pain,” but rather to walk in their shoes and see the world through their eyes; a more profound ability to switch perspectives and recognize dual viewpoints. Empathy, rather than sympathy or pity, is a precursor to affecting change.
  6. Self-awareness. The ability to define values, motivations, and passions, and to identify how those values are shaped; the ability to assess one’s own strengths and weaknesses, analyze where and how to improve, and to reflect on and re-evaluate previous opinions or decisions; the desire to use an understanding of self to better relate to and communicate with others.
  7. Humility. An ability to understand one’s place and importance, to deeply respect others, to recognize others’ talents without comparison to one’s own; to possess a grounded understanding of one’s limitations; to provide service to others without question of their position in society.
  8. Grit. Intrinsic determination to persevere through challenges and setbacks without complaint and defer instant gratification in order to reach a set goal.
  9. Independence. The ability to think and act for oneself; to take responsibility for and stand behind one’s beliefs and actions; to explore the world confidently and carefully and to find support when necessary.
  10. Intercultural Competence. The desire and ability to behave and communicate effectively within and across cultures, to view issues from other perspectives, and to collaborate and engage in decision-making processes with diverse groups.

Program Leaders are the most important factor in motivating students’ thinking on our programs. Processing and reflecting through discussion are key ingredients for student learning and growth.

The Past and Future of Our Student Impact Evaluation

After years of hearing parents tell us their children returned home from programs changed in a number of positive ways, we decided to officially create our Student Learning Outcomes in 2015. When faced with new challenges during immersive service learning and getting the chance to step outside their comfort zones, students experience feelings of personal growth that they then bring home.

With the creation of the Student Learning Outcomes, we decided to do a few things:

  1. Design our programs to include intentional learning moments through community service and cultural immersion, group discussion, and personal reflection that would encourage student growth.
  2. Identify the skills, habits, and mindsets closely associated with future success that would change in students as a result of participating in a Rustic Pathways program.
  3. Measure whether students demonstrated growth in the ways we anticipated after returning home, and if that would continue after an extended period of time.

Looking to the Future

We’ll use the ongoing impact assessment data to design program experiences that drive stronger—and more enduring—growth in the skills, habits, and mindsets we believe are critical for students’ success as they tackle their generation’s most significant challenges.

Rustic Pathways’ ultimate goal is to create globally-minded self-aware young people committed to making change. We want our students to take what they learn while traveling and start to create change in their home communities.