Around the Institute

Evaluating A Program’s Impact on Alumni

October 25, 2013

Frustrated with Economists? Try Behavioral Economics.

The Center for Global Development just came out with yet another smart essay on a fascinating topic titled “The Nature of the Beast: What Behavioral Economics in Not.” The authors try to dispel certain myths that have emerged lately about the field of behavioral economics—that it is a pseudo-Machiavellian attempt to “control behavior,” a profoundly partisan approach to economics, and exclusively preoccupied with irrational decision-making. We like their definition at the end: let’s recognize that we live in a complex world and our approaches (evaluative and otherwise) should take this as their starting point.

Tracking Alumni

Earlier this month, the Institute of International Education (IIE) announced the launch of an extremely ambitious evaluation project: a 10-year research study of the impact of the Ford Foundation International Fellowships Program on the personal and professional lives of individual fellows. If that doesn’t sound daunting, this will: IIE will look at more than 4,300 former fellows across 22 countries. Yep, cue Keanu. We recently wrapped up a one-year evaluation of the American Jewish Committee’s Project Interchange which involved surveying electronically roughly 3,600 domestic and international alumni and interviewing over 75 of them, among other strategies. All to say, good luck, IIE!

Web Analytics

We’re big fans of the USC Norman Lear Center’s work evaluating the impact of media campaigns. Way back in 2012, when our government was slightly more functional (though not by much!), we wrote about their innovative assessment of the film Food, Inc.’s impact on target audiences. Now that they’ve launched the Media Impact Project, we can expect more insights from the Lear Center team in the months to come. In fact, check o ut media analytics strategist Dana Chinn’s public SlideShare account which has 24 presentations full of useful tips on measuring a campaign’s progress in the web and on social media platforms.