How to evaluate impact

What is impact?

Impact should be considered in its widest sense: in terms of the individual’s professional learning needs, school and system level priorities for improvement and the learning goals for the children and young people. Evaluation must go beyond gauging the participant’s immediate reaction and look at the effect that the experience has had over time to avoid a narrow and premature identification of successful professional learning.  

Although there is no single best approach to evaluation of impact there are several approaches associated with effective evaluation which can be applied to a broad range of professional learning activities.

Methods of gauging impact

These are the key approaches/guiding principles for effective evaluation of impact.
  • The core focus should be on linking the planning and evaluation of professional learning to improvements in teaching and learning and ultimately improved outcomes for children and young people.
  • Planning for professional learning and its evaluation should be integral to teacher and school self-evaluation.
  • Decisions about what to evaluate, when and how to go about it should be made at the outset of the professional learning activity.
  • Evaluation should go beyond the activity itself to evaluate the extent of teacher’s professional learning, how this supports improvements at individual, school and system level and the effect on children and young people’s learning, progress and achievement.
  • The timescale for impact evaluation should be based on projections of when impact will occur across the short, medium and long term. This should allow for sufficient time for teachers to adapt new ideas and practices and for learning outcomes to become evident. Formative evaluation at agreed stages should provide information that will strengthen or improve longer term professional learning activities.
  • Professional learning can have unintended impact so information should be gathered from a broad range of sources to give a complete picture of impact. Sources of information and evidence should provide opportunities for corroboration.
  • Evaluation methods should be tailored to the activities and experiences.
  • For selected professional learning activities the evaluation of impact should include value for money assessment.
  • Evaluative practices and processes should be regularly assessed to ensure they are and continue to be effective and proportionate.


There are a number of key policies and online resources which assist teachers, groups of teachers and schools in using self-evaluation to support continuous improvement.

Reflective question

In planning the evaluation of impact of my professional learning, how well do I ensure that I focus on the short, medium and longer term benefits to myself, my colleagues, my school and the children and young people?

Requirement for reflective practice

  • professional review and development (PRD) process in which all teachers have both an entitlement and a requirement to participate. The GTCS website provides key areas where teachers focus their CPD.
  • Journey to Excellence Part 4 – Planning for Excellence: Advice and guidance and to schools and/or local authorities for policy and practice in relation to PRD and the role of self-evaluation in this. Revised guidance on PRD which has been prepared by Education Scotland in partnership with other organisations was published in 2014.

Reflective Questions

Where am I now in relation to my skills, capabilities and knowledge of:

  • pedagogy
  • developing the curriculum for my learners
  • the use of technology to support learning and teaching?
  • What evidence do I have which supports this and what am I going to do next?
  • How broad a range of strategies/resources do I currently use to support my self-evaluation activities, for example, do I use feedback from children, young people and their families?
  • How well do I use self-evaluation to help plan my professional learning?
  • How could I make self-evaluation a more central part of my planning?



Professional Learning


  1. jmorganltpa says:

    Claire. Well done. Some very interesting and robust work here highlighting a wide variety of key resources for this module. Evaluation is a key aspect to the improvement of teaching: reviewing actions and achievements enable a teacher to improve. Hence the focus on the teacher/researcher. We will be covering much more of this in the next online session which I’m sure you’ll find useful.


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