USC Dornsife College Of Letters Arts and Sciences

University of Southern California

Monitoring and Evaluation Definitions

Monitoring and Evaluation Definitions

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Monitoring and Evaluation Definitions

Below are definitions of key terms used in Monitoring and Evaluation, along with examples relevant to the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation’s Catholic Sisters Initiative 2018-2022 strategy.  You can also download a document with these definitions as a PDF. The figure on the second page of the PDF illustrates how programmatic monitoring and evaluation is connected to the measurement, evaluation and learning framework for the Catholic Sisters Initiative Strategy.


Activities — Actions taken or work performed through which inputs such as funds, technical assistance, and other types of resources are mobilized to produce specific outputs.

Example:  trainings

Assumptions — Hypotheses about factors or risks which could affect the progress or success of an intervention. Intervention results depend on whether or not the assumptions made, prove to be correct.

Example: Training individual sisters increases organizational capacity

Goal — An aim or desired result

Example: improved technical management skills

Impact — The long-term, cumulative effect of programs/interventions over time.

Example: Effective human development services and ministries that improve lives of the vulnerable and disadvantaged.

Indicator of Progress — A concrete way of measuring performance.

Example: number of research papers published or presented

Inputs — The financial, human, and material resources used in a program/intervention.

Example: staff time

Outputs — Products, goods and services resulting from an intervention.

Example: post-secondary degrees

Outcomes — Short, medium or long-term effect of an intervention’s outputs, such as change in knowledge, attitudes, beliefs, behaviors.

Example: increased financial capacity of a congregation

Strategic Objective — Highest goals of an organization.

Example: Strengthen the services provided by Catholic sisters to vulnerable people in measurable ways at scale

Target — A measure to determine how successfully you are achieving a strategic objective.

Example: 5,000 students of low-income households and their families served in Catholic school communities in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.

Theory of Change — An on-going process of reflection to explore change and how it happens – and what that means in a particular context, sector, and/or group of people. A theory of change is a structured way of thinking about the change and impact organizations would like to achieve that involves an Integrated approach to program design, implementation, M&E and communication.

Example: The theory of change underlying the Catholic Sisters Strategic Initiative posits that the strength and vitality of sisters’ internal systems and organizations will enable them to be publicly recognized, respected leaders for their work with those who are vulnerable and disadvantaged.

Click here to download a PDF of definitions

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