Establishing consensus on the best ways to educate children about animal welfare and prevent harm: An online Delphi study

Janine Claire Muldoon, Joanne M Williams

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Many animal welfare organisations deliver education programmes for children and young people, or design materials for school teachers to use. However, few of these are scientifically evaluated, making it difficult for those working in this field to establish with any certainty the degree of success of their own programmes, or learn from others. There has been no guidance specifically tailored to the development and evaluation of animal welfare education interventions. Accordingly, a three-stage online Delphi study was designed to unearth the expertise of professionals working in this field, and identify degree of consensus on various aspects of the intervention process: design, implementation and evaluation. 31 experts participated in Round 1, representing 11 of 13 organisations in the Scottish Animal Welfare Education Forum (SAWEF), and 11 of 23 members of the wider UK based Animal Welfare Education Alliance (AWEA). Seven further professionals participated, including four based in Canada or the US. 84% of the original sample participated in Round 2, where a high level of consensus was apparent. However, the study also revealed areas of ambiguity (determining priorities, the need for intervention structure and degree of success). Tensions were also evident with respect to terminology (especially around cruelty and cruelty prevention), and the common goal for animal welfare to be part of school curricula. Findings were used to develop a web-based framework and toolkit to enable practitioners to follow evidence-based guidance. This should enable organisations to maximise the quality and effectiveness of their interventions for children and young people.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)179-195
Number of pages17
JournalAnimal Welfare Journal
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2021


  • animal welfare
  • animal welfare education
  • children
  • cruelty prevention
  • Delphi
  • young people


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