Assessing Your Broader Impacts

Assessment is a way for both the granting agency and the investigators to evaluate the success of a broader impacts activity, and it will inform decisions about design, development, and implementation of future broader impacts projects. Assessment techniques should be appropriate to the activity or outreach, as well as informed by current outreach and communication research. Careful assessment of activities can also support the possibility of additional publications deriving from the broader impacts activities themselves.


Assessment is another area that benefits tremendously from working with outreach partners early in the proposal development process. Outreach partners will be familiar with current methods and best practice, and can help develop a thorough assessment plan. For help finding assessment partners on campus, see our Campus Resources page.

Evaluations should help you answer three questions: what, so what, and now what.

  • What
    • What happens in the program?
    • What services and experiences does the program offer?
    • What activities and processes occur?
    • What outcomes and impacts result?
    • What unanticipated outcomes emerge?
    • What are the program's documented costs and benefits?
  • So What
    • What do the findings mean?
    • Why did the results turn out as they did?
    • What are the implications of the findings?
    • What judgements can be made?
    • To what degree and in what ways can the program be considered a success? A failure? A mixed bag of positives and negatives?
    • How does this program compare to other programs?
    • What sense can we make of the findings?
  • Now What
    • What recommendations can be made from the findings?
    • What improvements should be made?
    • Should funding be continued, expanded, reduced, or ended?
    • Should others adopt the program?
    • What do findings from this project suggest for other or future projects?
    • What actions flow from the findings and their interpretations?”

(CAISE, 2011)


When you lay out your assessment plan in the proposal you should try to answer the following questions as clearly as possible.

  • What are your goals and objectives?

  • What measureable outcomes are there?

  • How will you measure those outcomes?

  • How will project outcomes lead to desired societal outcomes?


NC State University Libraries and the Office of Public Science in the College of Sciences maintain a bibliography of useful articles for planning and supporting broader impacts statements.  Resources specifically useful for assessment are organized into a subcollection that can be found here.


CAISE. (2011). Principal Investigator’s Guide: Managing Evaluation in Informal STEM Education Projects (PI Guide) (Report | Reference Materials). Informal Science. Retrieved from


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