Directorate for the Student Experience

Impact Evaluation in the DSE

What is Impact Evaluation?

Impact Evaluation is a methodology that helps you to assess whether you have achieved a set of objectives. It also helps you to identify unintended consequences of a project or policy. These can often be very positive. It is complementary to measuring satisfaction with a service or experience, but goes a bit deeper to help you to know if your activity has actually had the effect that you wanted for it.

For instance: if you are running a programme that aims to recruit a particular group into the University, a satisfaction survey will tell you what the participants on the programme thought of it, wheras impact evaluation will tell you whether, as a result of the programme, more people from your target group have joined the Unviersity.

When Should I Use It?

It can be used for almost any piece of work. It is most often used to evaluate events or when reviewing activity to check that it is still relevant and fit for purpose. Getting in the habit of regularly evaluating impact contributes and supports continuous improvement, and also acts as a 'sense check'. In a fast moving environment it is possible to find that we are continuing to deliver services in a certain way simply because that's how it's always been done, and Impact Evaluation is one way of helping you to think through how you might do things better, differently or not at all.

Put more briefly, Impact Evaluation helps to answer the question, 'Have I done what I meant to do?'.

Impact Evaluation is a great way of thinking rigorously about your project and what you want to achieve. It also helps you to build an evidence base so that you can prove you are fulfilling goals and objectives - and to support you build a business case for increased resource or expansion.

Top Tips

  1. Think about HOW you are going to evaluate impact before you launch your project or run your event. Then you can put in place the means of gathering the necessary data. For instance: in the example above, it would be essential to know if new starters from the target group had participated in your programme, but if you don't think about how you are going to know that in advance, you might find that it's too late.
  2. Plan your Impact Evaluation in a group rather than on your own - it will be a lot more productive.

Let's Get Going

  • Download the DSE's Impact Evaluation Toolkit from the menu, top right.
  • Contact the Directorate Office ( if you have questions or would like support in planning an impact evaluation.

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