Assessing Downstream Impacts- The Value of Qualitative Methods

In our last post on measuring downstream impacts, we offered a language for talking about impacts. In this one, we discuss the value of qualitative methods for assessing them. Where to begin? First of course, you need to be prepared to wait for the impacts to happen. How long depends upon the kinds of impacts you’re trying to achieve. Referring back to the table in our last post, depending on the size of the school and the intensity of the intervention, it may be possible to observe changes in school climate in just a few months, though whether they will be sustained over time is another question (and one that is often neglected). Many substance abuse, employment and criminal justice metrics look at changes six months post program. Impacts such as community change on the other hand may take years to observe. The evaluation team needs to be prepared to follow-up several months, or possibly several years, after the program has concluded and this waiting has to be built into the project timeline and budget. [Continue reading]

Assessing Downstream Impacts- A Brief Introduction

If you follow a common approach to logic modeling used in the human services and other sectors, your three right most columns contain your project’s short-term, medium-term and long-term outcomes. We prefer to call short-term outcomes effects; medium-term outcomes, outcomes; and long-term outcomes, impacts. Many programs follow  a similar approach. Short-term outcomes include the immediate results of the intervention and have to do with how people and systems have been affected by a program. Medium term outcomes generally describe what people are doing differently, whereas long-term outcomes get at the impacts of the changes.  The table below provides some examples: [Continue reading]