Learn how to develop a ToC-based evaluation
Once you’ve identified your ToC-based questions and chosen an appropriate evaluation design, you’re ready to select measures. To do that, you’ll need to identify the constructs from your Theory of Change and then select tools to gather information about those constructs.
Note: Each item or bullet in your ToC is a construct.
That may sound obvious, but it doesn’t always happen this way. Sometimes measures are chosen for other reasons such as convenience or because a funder or other entity requires them. Appreciating that there are many factors that might come into play, be sure to include measures closely tied to your ToC.
While this toolkit does not address the more technical aspects of measurement, here are a few considerations for selecting or creating tools to gather data:
- Is the measure culturally relevant and appropriate to participants? Can participants understand it in terms of the language it’s in and their literacy level?
- Participant burden: How much time does it take to complete, and how difficult is it? How many tools are being used?
- Cost: How expensive is it to acquire the measure? What training, equipment, and materials are needed?
- Previous use: Have others used it before? Has it been used and validated in your context? This is particularly important for outcome measures.
- What information or data is already being collected that is relevant to the ToC?
Some considerations might be especially important to different partners (e.g., researchers might really care about the validity of a measure, and practitioners and community members might be especially attuned to participant burden). This is why co-creation is so important when designing an evaluation plan and selecting measures; co-creation ensures that the evaluation plan is acceptable to everyone involved.
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Evaluating the El Busesito program
Over a period of four years, the El Busesito team engaged in multiple rounds of evaluation and fast-cycle iteration, with each round leading to changes in their ToC, evaluation approach, and program. During the 2021-2022 program year, the team continued to explore the impact on targets through a pre-post pilot study using some standardized measures (e.g., the TS Gold) and a survey developed by the team. The El Busesito team received support from collaborators at Colorado State University and ResultsLab to plan and execute their evaluation plan. Community-based organizations and non-profits often find it helpful to partner with an external evaluator, especially as they move toward more rigorous evaluation.