Program Evaluation

A robust plan for evaluating the impact of a research program is essential for determining its success. The following suggestions and resources are provided to assist with developing an evaluation plan for grant proposals.


  • Create clearly defined and detailed objectives for your program that align with priorities of the funding program.
  • Determine the outcomes that you expect to see if your program has the desired impact.
  • Develop an evaluation plan that aligns with your objectives and answers questions about the success of your program based on your intended outcomes.
  • Integrate assessment in an intentional way throughout your program, rather than adding it on at the end.


  • Include a mechanism for formative assessment, where you review progress and use evaluation results at multiple points in time to feed back into the program for improvement.
  • Construct an evaluation plan that is sustainable and something that others can replicate. Many granting agencies will specify a certain amount of budget to be devoted to evaluation (commonly 10-15%), so consider what can be accomplished with those resources when planning the scope of your evaluation.
  • Include a timeline to help the reader understand how you are going to carry out the evaluation.
  • Use multiple methods of evaluation to balance the strengths and weaknesses of any particular approach.
  • Perform a scan of internal and external resources. You may already have access to internal data or to publicly available measures that could contribute to your program evaluation.
  • Describe the evaluation instruments and techniques you intend to use and why they are appropriate measures of your outcomes. Do not assume the reader will already be familiar with commercial scales or surveys.
  • Collect data that are specific enough to allow you to identify program strengths and weaknesses.
  • Consider involving an external evaluator to add objectivity and expertise. That person can help you with the design of the evaluation section for your proposal as well as assist in carrying out the evaluation plan.

Determining success

  • Evaluate both process (show you are doing the things you said you would) as well as outcomes (the impact of those things).
  • Establish benchmarks that will enable you to determine if your program is accomplishing what you set out to do.