By Stacy Hayden
Welcome to the second post in our “Writing Your Grant” series. If you did not read the first post, we would suggest you go back and review our post on Connecting Objectives to Outcomes. In this post, we’ll explore how to connect those outcomes to measurement.
In our last post we talked about outcomes being the latter half of a cause-and-effect pair. For example, we presented this pair:
Objective: Expand student advising program
Outcome: Improvement in student academic progress
We want to ensure the data we use is tied to the outcome. In this case, there are several potential data sources that might be used to demonstrate “improvement in student academic progress.” These might include:
Grades (e.g., students earning a D or F in courses, students earning an A or B in courses)
Standardized Test Scores
Progress Toward Degree Completion (e.g., number of credits earned, other milestones)
While all of these could be reasonable data sources to demonstrate “improvement in student academic progress,” the data source selected should mirror the project. For example, if this was an outcome of a higher education STEM grant, we might want to specify STEM grades. Further, you will also need to be specific in how each of these will be measured. For example, if we wanted to use cumulative GPA as the measurement for this outcome, we would need to decide how to analyze this data and what change we are looking for to constitute success. Examples might be:
The average cumulative GPA of students
The average change in cumulative GPA of students from one time frame to another
The percentage of students with a cumulative GPA above a certain benchmark
The percentage of students with a cumulative GPA below a certain benchmark
The percentage of students who maintain or increase their cumulative GPA
Finally, you’ll need to decide whose data will be used. For example, if a higher education STEM project was to use cumulative GPA to demonstrate improvement in student academic progress, they could look at different samples of students. For example:
Students participating in the STEM program/intervention
Students participating in the STEM program/intervention who attend advising sessions
Students who have identified STEM majors and who are participating in the program/intervention
Students at the institute of higher education who have identified a STEM major
Determining what sample is appropriate is just as important as determining the data source and how it will be measured.
When you work on a grant application you will likely need to provide the basics related to outcomes and measurements. However, thinking through this prior to being funded can help you ensure your organization has the capacity to procure the required data while also allowing you to use this as preliminary data in a grant application to show the need for funding. Finally, being able to list measures demonstrates to the funder a plan for measuring success and may be required as part of a grant application.
When you work with Shaffer Evaluation Group on a grant application, our team will help you write effective objectives and outcomes along with planning how to measure these. If you're planning to submit a grant application and require an evaluation partner, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.