Once you have defined measurable outcomes or objectives, it is important to identify measures that align with the anticipated deliverables. There are a variety of direct and indirect assessment strategies from which to choose. As a best practice, we recommend using both a direct and indirect measure to assess outcomes or objectives.

Measures can also be quantitative or qualitative. Quantitative methods are numerical in nature and qualitative methods are descriptive.

Direct Measures

Direct measures imply that there is an end-result or change that can be evaluated or measured. These measures evaluate the actual performance of the indicators for student learning or operational effectiveness.

Examples of Direct Measures

  • Error rates, processing time
  • Increase in counts (number of customers served)
  • Reduction in cost of performance
  • Growth in service
  • Sampling of clients
  • Performance Evaluations
  • Tracking logs
  • Review of work product
  • Rubrics or Evaluation Form
  • Dollars raised or dollars saved
  • Institutional data
  • Audits or Financial reports
  • Attendance
  • Participation
  • Quantitative reports on service delivery
  • Quantitative reports on accuracy, efficiency, completion, performance evaluations or appraisals
  • Contact hours with students or clients
  • Financial reports
  • Industry standards

Indirect Measures

Indirect measures capture the attitude and perception of learning, effectiveness or satisfaction. These measures are reflections of experience rather than actual achievement. Learning is inferred and usually self-reported.

Examples of Indirect Measures

  • SWOT analysis
  • Surveys
  • Focus groups and interviews
  • External reviews
  • Graduation rate
  • Retention rate
  • Meeting discussions


  • Use both direct and indirect measures as supporting evidence for objectives and outcomes.
  • Select the appropriate assessment method, ensuring it is directly and clearly related to the objective/outcome being assessed.
  • Use multiple measures for each objective/outcome. A combination of methods makes the data more meaningful, valid and reliable.
  • Incorporate measures into your daily work, as they should be systematic and documented.
  • Identify, develop and review measures at the beginning of the assessment cycle.
  • Consider your audience.