Ali Fraenkel

Ali designs, manages, and builds community for Ashoka U's transformational learning and development environment - the Ashoka U Commons.

Cracking the Hardest Nut – Measuring the impact of your changemaking initiative

“It is hard to measure what we care about so we end up measuring what we can, this isn’t impact.”
– Willy Oppenheim, Founder and Executive Director of Omprakash

One element I love about Ashoka’s work is the eagerness to identify and embrace patterns in emerging fields — and translate these patterns to society in new, compelling ways. At this year’s Ashoka U Exchange, we spotted another clear pattern: Measuring and evaluating the impact of changemaking initiatives on campus continues to be a complex and oftentimes daunting process.  

We consistently hear from Ashoka U’s community: Measuring what matters is a tough nut to crack – in our field, and across all avenues of social impact. You saw it in Willy’s quote above. You hear it in conversations across campus. Many of you feel it in your daily roles. We know how critical this work is and are committed to figure it out alongside you.

As we research what changemaker measurement and evaluation look like in practice, this work tends to fall into one of three categories:

  • Evaluating the effect of changemaker education on students’ changemaker learning outcomes;
  • Evaluating the effect of changemaking on institutional function, or institutional change;
  • Evaluating the effects of the institution’s changemaking work in the community, or evaluating community impact.

Over the last two years, Ashoka U’s Research and Evaluation Specialist, Hattie Duplechain, has honed in on the very first bullet: Focusing on evaluating the effect of changemaker education on students’ changemaker learning outcomes. 

The below summaries of this work are an open invitation to you. We encourage you to explore how they might inform your own steps in changemaker measurement and evaluation!

(1) Ashoka U is focusing on identifying, clarifying, and analyzing learning outcomes in social innovation, social entrepreneurship, and changemaker education (SI/SE/CM, for short).

In defining and establishing student learning outcomes, a helpful first step is to clearly understand the type of offering you’re seeking to measure. Reflect on the question: Where – if at all – does your program, class, initiative, or experience fit along the below spectrum?

Changemaker Education → Social Innovation → Social Entrepreneurship

   (Mindset/Skillset) →    (Methodology/Lens)   →  (Technical/Venture)

As we utilize the spectrum above in our work, we’re learning more and more about the key learning outcomes embedded across these spaces and how the Ashoka U community is putting them to use. Check out a selection of slides from one of Hattie’s Exchange presentations this April 2018 to learn more about these trends in action!

(2) We are sharing models and practices for evaluating learning outcomes in SI/SE/CM education.

Hattie and the Ashoka U community are currently co-creating a publication to share how others have put these steps for evaluating learning outcomes into practice at their institutions. Pre-order this new publication, coming Fall 2018: Preparing Students for a Rapidly Changing World: Learning Outcomes for Social Innovation, Social Entrepreneurship, and Changemaker Education.  

Can’t wait until Fall 2018? You can preview some of the insights that will be represented based on Hattie’s earlier conversations across Ashoka U.

(3) Our community thrives in collaborative environments that build clarity for both the individual and collective perspectives. We’re committed to designing more of these community spaces for you to advance your measurement and evaluation goals. 

As you seek to further your measurement and evaluation work, it’s important to develop clarity around your institutional context for evaluation. Hattie suggests you reflect on the following questions to derive clarity around the role of changemaker evaluation on your campus:

  • What is change is needed? What do you aim to change?
  • What might it look like if you successfully achieved this change? What will people see, hear, feel, or experience?
  • What do you need to know about success? How would you like to use that information?
  • How might you collect relevant data along the way – is this technical, straightforward, organic, etc.? Where might your richest insights be?

“Ideally, measurement unearths the insight you need about your efficacy now in order to innovate toward even bigger impact in the future.”

Hattie Duplechain, Ashoka U Research and Evaluation Specialist

Join Our Learning Community

Do any of the above prompts keep you up at night? Do you feel evaluation should be more integrated into the courses, programs, and experiences you craft at your institution? We have two opportunities designed for you:

Informational Webinar with Hattie: Dip your toes into Ashoka U’s evaluation work and findings. You can register to join a webinar hosted by our very own Hattie Duplechain on Wednesday, June 20th at 12pm EST. She’ll dive into Ashoka U’s learning outcomes research and trends, as well as opportunities to contribute your own methodologies.

New Commons Cohort this Fall 2018: Hattie has designed “Identifying and Measuring Changemaker Competencies” as our newest Ashoka U Commons cohort. This will be a deep-dive, pioneering experience for those of you ready to work through challenges in developing learning outcomes and measurement/evaluation pathways for your changemaker education initiatives. Submit your interest for this cohort today!

We look forward to supporting you and working alongside you to advance the measurement and evaluation space as it pertains to changemaker education. In addition to the opportunities above, don’t forget to join our special email list to stay updated on our learning outcomes and evaluation work and resources!

The Ashoka U Commons is our transformational learning and development environment for changemaker educators and campus innovators. For over 3 years we’ve brought together cohorts of peer institutions, dedicated Coaches, and Ashoka U expertise to curate experiences of accelerating campus social innovation ecosystems. Email Ali ( with your inquiries or interest!