The General Teaching Council for Scotland

20 Mar 2018

Gathering evidence of impact

Charlaine SimpsonCharlaine Simpson, Senior Education Officer

In analysing data from the Professional Update Annual evaluation, a re-occurring theme has emerged around evidence of impact. What does evidence of impact mean? Why do I have to gather evidence of impact? How do I gather evidence of impact? etc. This post will hopefully give you some ideas about evidence of impact and how to go about it.

First of all, what is evidence of impact? As part of any professional learning, an evaluation of what has happened is vital to ensure that your professional learning has had impact on you, as a learner, on your pupils’ outcomes, on any colleagues, and on your school/context. Evidence of impact is the ‘so what?’ of your professional learning that informs your next steps. Professional learning or practitioner enquiry often involves gaining new knowledge, new skills and abilities, or developing your own capacity. Therefore, your professional learning should be analysed, reflected upon and captured in some way, perhaps in a learning log.

Now we have the why, let’s move onto the what. So, when you undertake professional learning think about the following aspects:

  • what you did (your behaviours)
  • why you did that (your values, beliefs and assumptions)
  • what has changed (professional noticing)
  • and what do you think now.

Answering these questions starts you thinking about the impact of your professional learning, but what about the evidence?

What evidence can you collect? There is no right evidence or a right way to collect evidence! Try to collect evidence that occurs through your practice. What are you already doing and noticing that can be used to show the impact of your professional learning? Below is a list of things that you might consider. This is not an exhaustive list but may give you some ideas of evidence that is commonly found in schools.

Examples of available evidence

  • Professional Learning log
  • Professional Dialogue
  • What do I hear myself saying?
  • Observation of self (using technology)
  • Observation by peer
  • Learner experience
  • Learner motivation
  • Learner outcomes
  • Learner voice
  • Learner achievement
  • Learner engagement
  • Formative assessment
  • Survey of learners
  • Focus groups/interviews
  • Summative assessments
  • Pastoral notes
  • Individual Education Plan (IEP)
  • Attendance data
  • Parent/Carer support
  • Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation (SIMD)
  • Benchmark/Insight data

Now comes the most challenging part: analysing the data. Data in itself does not give you the answers, but if you ask questions of your data then you can start to unpick the key. Some useful questions could be:

  • How might I test assumptions?
  • What is my data/information telling me?
  • What is missing from my data/information?
  • How might I organise my data/information?
  • Are there any patterns in my data/information?
  • What does the literature say about my questions/issue/provocation?
  • Does my data/information agree or disagree with current thinking/policy/literature?
  • How might I check out my findings?
  • What are my next steps?
  • Who can I share my learning with?

So, hopefully you now have a better understanding of what is meant by "evidence of impact", what data you might collect and the questions you may ask of the data to inform your next steps. However, the most important thing to remember is to keep it meaningful (relevant for you and your pupils) and manageable (not too burdensome, so it gets done).

More information about evidence of impact can be found on the GTCS website: