Standards of evidence and evaluation self-assessment tool
We have set out standards of evidence that universities and colleges should aim to meet when they evaluate their work on access and participation. We have also produced guidance on how to strengthen evaluation by achieving good standards of evidence in impact evaluation.
We also have an evaluation self-assessment tool which assists providers in reviewing whether their evaluation plans and methodologies go far enough to generate high quality evidence about the impact of activities in their access and participation plans.
How should providers use standards?
Higher education providers should use standards of evidence:
- in deciding what evidence to use to guide their decision about whether to invest in different types of interventions and practices, and to help them to improve their access and participation delivery and performance
- to guide what kind of evidence is generated by their own impact evaluation and analysis and to clarify the claims that can be made when reporting the results of evaluations externally.
Three types of evaluation
The standards we have published use three types of evaluation which generate different types of evidence: narrative, empirical enquiry, consideration of causal claims.
|Claims you can make
Type 1: Narrative
The impact evaluation provides a narrative or a coherent theory of change to motivate its selection of activities in the context of a coherent strategy
Evidence of impact elsewhere and/or in the research literature on access and participation activity effectiveness or from your existing evaluation results
We have a coherent explanation of what we do and why
Our claims are research-based
Type 2: Empirical Enquiry
The impact evaluation collects data on impact and reports evidence that those receiving an intervention have better outcomes, though does not establish any direct causal effect
Quantitative and/or qualitative evidence of a pre/post intervention change or a difference compared to what might otherwise have happened
We can demonstrate that our interventions are associated with beneficial results.
Type 3: Causality
The impact evaluation methodology provides evidence of a causal effect of an intervention
Quantitative and/or qualitative evidence of a pre/post treatment change on participants relative to an appropriate control or comparison group who did not take part in the intervention
We believe our intervention causes improvement and can demonstrate the difference using a control or comparison group
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