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What’s the Difference? Understanding Process and Outcome Evaluation

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2007

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An outcome evaluation tells you whether a program achieved its goals. A process evaluation tells you how and why.

A process evaluation describes a program’s services, activities, policies, and procedures. It provides early feedback as to whether the program is being implemented as intended, what barriers have been encountered, and what changes are needed. Most importantly, it may reveal why outcomes were or were not achieved.

An outcome evaluation measures a program’s results and determines whether intended outcomes were achieved. It tests hypotheses by comparing conditions before and after participation, by comparing participants with similar individuals who did not participate, or by comparing a combination of both.

This brief explains the difference between process and outcome evaluations and provides examples.

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