Is it, or Isn’t It?
We return to our Program Evaluation series with the 3rd step – Determining Program Outcomes. Here we examine how to define your program’s objectives. Sometimes the best way to do that is to be sure you know what they are not. We are not looking for outputs but outcomes. An outcome shows a change in knowledge, skills, attitude, or behavior. They are distinctly different and those differences are outlined below:
An OUTPUT indicates:
- program efficiency
- units of service produced
- tangible value produced as a result of the program
Some examples of output may be the number of people who attended a training class, number of classes held, or number of volunteers hours served.
An OUTCOME indicates:
- program effectiveness
- change in knowledge, skills, attitude or behavior
- stakeholders’ experiences/benefits as a result of the program
Some examples of outcomes might be skills gained from attending a training class, changes in participant behavior, or changes in attitude.
To determine your program outcomes you must ask the following questions:
- What are you trying to accomplish?
- What are the ultimate desired results?
- In what way(s) would you like a person or condition to change as a result of your program?
- What is/are the ultimate benefits provided to your program participants?
Evaluations may conclude that your program just didn’t work well. You may find that it costs too much or doesn’t really achieve your desired or perceived outcomes. While these may not be the results you anticipated, you will have the tools to improve your program. Knowing where you want to be and where you actually are will lead to achieving your goals. Next time we will discuss reviewing and analyzing your data to qualitatively evaluate your program.