Simply identifying and measuring program outcomes is one way to evaluate. An outcome is a change or impact for participants, during or after a program. An outcome can be positive or negative, intended, or unintended.
The first step in measuring outcomes is to identify outcomes for your program. In choosing your program outcomes, you will acknowledge the stated and unstated objectives of the program and think about what matters to various stakeholders.
To begin, brainstorm a list of program outcomes. Your list should include outcomes for various participants and consider the perspectives of different stakeholders. For example, a brainstormed list of program outcomes for a program that supplies translation services at a health clinic might include the following:
- Patients can state their doctor’s instructions
- Patients follow their doctor’s instructions
- Patients take their medications
- Patients have a decrease in drug complications
- Doctors increase their understanding of other cultures
- Nurses pick up phrases in other languages
The following are not outcomes: the program provides translation services for 50 patients, ten people volunteer to be translators. They are inputs. Remember, an outcome is a change or impact.
Need help generating your list? Street Law, Inc. asked law school program coordinators to share potential program outcomes.
You may want to involve key program stakeholders in the brainstorming process. Ask on-site teachers/site coordinators what they hope students get from the program. Ask participating law students what they see as the outcomes.