After a complete brainstorming session where you’ve written down all of your potential program outcomes, you should decide which outcomes are worth measuring.
Weed out any duplicative, overlapping, or clearly unimportant outcomes.
Apply the following three criteria to the remaining outcomes (Download a worksheet to facilitate this process: Worksheet: Criteria for Choosing Outcomes)
- Test #1 Is it reasonable to believe that our program can influence this outcome in a meaningful way?
- Example: It may not be reasonable to believe that your Street Law program will keep students from ever committing a crime. It may be reasonable to believe, however, that students will have more positive interactions with law enforcement.
- Test #2 Would measurement of the outcome help identify program successes and address problems or shortcomings?
- Example: While it might be interesting to know whether students’ reading skills improve after the program, if that information will not help you improve the program, then you shouldn’t spend time measuring it.
- Test #3 Does the outcome represent meaningful benefits to or consequences for the participants?
- Example: One of your outcomes might be that law students will have a better understanding of the workings of your local public schools. If that increased understanding isn’t a meaningful program benefit, then don’t worry about trying to measure it.
Of the remaining outcomes, put a star next to those that you feel it would be particularly beneficial for the program to measure. Ideally, you should narrow your list to about five outcomes.