Evaluating for Results

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The fourth and final level of evaluation deals with results and return on investment. Level four assessments ask: How have organizational outcomes changed as a result of a change in behavior? While it can often be incredibly challenging to evaluate for results, it is often the most rewarding. The data unearthed through level 4 evaluations is well worth the effort, as it provides organizations with evidence or proof that their training and technical assistance efforts are ultimately impacting the performance of the client in a positive way. Like level 3 evaluations, evaluating for results takes time and patience. Prior to beginning the level 4 evaluation process, you and your clients should map out the outcomes and performance measures that you hope to achieve through the implementation of a training and technical assistance program. After these data points have been identified, you can begin to analyze whether your work has resulted in tangible benefits for your client, allowing them to operate more efficiently and effectively, and empowering them to increase their capacity.

Evaluate long-term outcomes and identify results.

Outcomes are the desired measurable changes in efficiency or effectiveness that are meaningful to the client. In the early stages of developing a training or technical assistance program, outcomes become goals or hypotheses as to the impact you hope to have on your client. When evaluating for results, an organization should revisit the long-term outcomes identified in their logic model, and consider ways to evaluate these outcomes.

Performance measures are the data points that support the achievement of a larger outcome. While an outcome generally represents a larger goal or aim for the organization, performance measures are the concrete factors that are assumed to quantitatively measure the established outcome.

Click to open interactivity Performance measures support long-term outcomes.

Performance measures support long-term outcomes.

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Level 4 evaluations do not exist in a vacuum.

Level 4 evaluations are compelling. Evaluating for results helps to affirm that your organization’s efforts were well spent, that your clients came away with meaningful knowledge that motivated them to change their behavior, and that this behavior change led to improvements in the way they do business.

Because results are so compelling, it is important that your organization be able to show the link between your services and each level of client evaluation. If your organization has not taken the time to make level 2 and level 3 evaluations a priority, it will be hard to make the case that your client’s successes can be attributed to the training and technical assistance opportunities you provided.

While all evaluation processes require you to make assumptions, effective evaluation of all four levels will make it far easier to correlate the activities and outputs your organization provides with the positive results of your clients. Keep in mind that correlation does not imply direct causation. In order to prove direct causation, an organization will need to take part in experimental research and a controlled study to link training and technical assistance to results.

Click to open interactivity Recognize your role in clients’ results.

Recognize your role in clients’ results.

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