Outcome evaluation

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Outcome evaluation

To assess the effectiveness of its research in achieving intended outcomes and impacts, in complement to more classic ex post impact assessment, FTA has developed and uses a qualitative theory-based outcome evaluation approach. In addition to answering the question of “did it work?”, such evaluations investigate how and why outcomes occur or do not occur. Outcome evaluations assess whether or not the intended outcomes have been realized and therefore whether or not the ToC is being realized.

The main steps for this work are:
1. Review the theory of change, which explains the intended outcomes/impacts of a research project/program and the theoretical mechanisms for those outcomes;
2. Identify key intended outcomes and appropriate indicators and/or measures of those outcomes;
3. Assemble available monitoring data and conduct document reviews, key informant interviews, focus group discussions and surveys to collect evidence to test whether intended outcomes have been realized and whether the intervention (research project) has made a contribution to those outcomes;
4. Analyze and assess the project theory of change against actual outcomes;
5. Consider alternative theories/explanations for outcomes.

Evidence that intended outcomes have been achieved is an indicator of success at the project/program scale, and supports the validity of the ToC. A lack of evidence, or evidence of failure to achieve outcomes, triggers deeper examinations to determine the reasons. Intended outcomes may not be achieved due to poor implementation, unforeseen circumstances, or a wrong ToC, all of which help us learn and improve.

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