1.3 Definition of key terms relating to monitoring and evaluation

Terms What is measured Definition
Baseline Indicators at the start of the project Information about the situation a project is trying to affect, showing what it is like before the intervention(s)
Benchmark Standard of achievement A standard of achievement that a project has achieved, which it can compare with other achievements
Bias A tendency to make errors in one direction. For example, are there potential for errors because not all key stakeholder groups have been consulted? Are there incentives that reward incorrect information? Does reporting a death in the family mean that food ration levels might be reduced?
Outcomes Effectiveness Use of outputs and sustained benefits, e.g. how many litres of clean water are available in each household, how many participants show evidence of training being used
Outputs Effort Implementation of activities, e.g. the number of water containers distributed, number of participants trained
Impact Change

(can be positive or negative)

Difference from the original problem situation. At its simplest, impact measurement means asking the people affected, ‘What difference are we making?’  Examples of impact may be a significant reduction in the incidence of water-borne disease or evidence that what trainees have learned is having a tangible impact on project/programme delivery, etc.
Milestone Performance at a critical point A well-defined and significant step towards achieving a target, output, outcome or impact, which allows people to track progress
Qualitative information Performance indicators Qualitative information describes characteristic according to quality (as opposed to quantity) and often includes people’s opinions, views and other subjective assessments. Uses qualitative assessment tools, such as focus groups, interviewing key informants, stakeholder mapping, ranking, analysis of secondary data and observation. Qualitative data collection tools require skill to obtain a credible and relatively unbiased assessment. The key question is: do they provide reliable and valid data of sufficient quantity and quality?
Quantitative information Performance indicators Information about the number of things someone is doing, providing or achieving, or the length of those things, or the number of times they happen
Triangulation Consistency between different sets of data Use of three or more sources or types of information to verify assessment