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Evaluation Stages and Types of Program Impact

Learn more about stages of evaluation and types of program impact.

Evaluation assesses the extent to which you have achieved your intended goals. Measuring change is a gradual process and necessary throughout your initiative.

Stages of Evaluation

Evaluation is the process of ongoing reflection and assessment against the achievement of goals. Measuring change is a gradual process, and is vital to make sure change is happening in the right direction to achieve your goals.

There are three stages to the evaluation cycle:

  • Design evaluation provides insights that help design or improve your initiative (e.g. a survey with the target population to understand their needs before implementation)
  • Implementation evaluation provides insights on the process, enabling you to monitor and track progress (e.g. interviews with staff to investigate what is working with the programme and what isn’t)
  • Impact evaluation assesses the impact and outcomes (e.g. comparing data at the end of the programme to data before the programme, to understand what – if anything – has changed)

Three stages of monitoring and evaluation in a circle, indicating a continuous cycle

There are also two types of evaluation – formative (improve) and summative (prove) – that relate to the stages above. More information can be found in the Monitoring and Evaluation handout.

You might have already realised that you’ve been considering aspects of monitoring and evaluation from the beginning of week 1, in particular during development of your theory of change. This is no coincidence. Working backwards from an identified goal and aligning activities has monitoring and evaluation in-built.

Capturing the Impact of your Intervention

Impact is a demonstrated contribution of an initiative to a community, to bring benefits to the economy, society, culture, public policy or services, health, the environment, and/or quality of life.

There are four types of impact to consider:

  1. Instrumental impact: influencing policy, practice or service provision, shaping legislation, altering behaviour (e.g. advocating for gender equity in sport policy);
  2. Conceptual impact: contributing to the understanding of policy issues, reframing debates (e.g. research which changes our understanding of what works best for young people);
  3. Social impact: contributing to a change in attitudes, perceptions and behaviours (e.g. running programmes using sport to enable youth to lead healthier, safer lives);
  4. Capacity building impact: building knowledge and skills through technical and personal development (e.g. training individuals and organisations to better design, deliver and evaluate their work).

Information on impact from the UK Economic and Social Research Council

Programmes may also have unintended outcomes, which can be positive or negative (e.g. providing sport to girls in a community may result in a backlash from elders). It is vital to capture all results of your efforts and not just those that you have set goals or targets for.

What impact are you hoping to achieve with your initiative and what will you need to monitor and evaluate to demonstrate this change? 

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Sport for Sustainable Development: Designing Effective Policies and Programmes

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