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Inputs: The SAGE Encyclopedia of Educational Research, Measurement, and Evaluation

The term inputs refers to the resources made available to a program, policy, or curriculum to enable its operation. More precisely, inputs provide the antecedent conditions from which some programmatic activities are to occur and, as a consequence, achieve some predetermined objectives. Put simply, inputs are what get invested to do the work.

Suggested Citation: Lam, C. Y. (2018). Inputs. In The SAGE Encyclopedia of Educational Research, Measurement, and Evaluation (p. 824). Thousand Oaks, SAGE. 

“The term inputs refers to the resources made available to a program, policy, or curriculum to enable its operation. More precisely, inputs provide the antecedent conditions from which some programmatic activities are to occur and, as a consequence, achieve some predetermined objectives. Put simply, inputs are what get invested to do the work.

Inputs are important to make explicit because they play a limiting function in the implementation program, policy, or curriculum. For instance, the reach of a program is dependent on its inputs, such as the funding allocated to the program, the size of the venue in which the program is delivered, or the availability of program staff with expertise in the area.Without sufficient input, the efficacy and/or the effectiveness of a program may suffer. Yet, the opposite is not necessarily true. Overinvesting in a program, policy, or curriculum does not necessarily yield greater or better outcomes, if processes are unable to take advantage of abundant inputs. Hence an accurate accounting of inputs is important to understanding the effects of a program, policy, or curriculum.”

By Chi Yan Lam

Dr. Chi Yan Lam is a Credentialed Evaluator and an Adjunct Assistant Professor of evaluation at the Faculty of Education and the Faculty of Health Sciences, Queen’s University; he is also a full-time evaluator practicing in public service. He specializes in evaluating large-scale, complex programs and incorporates multi-, mixed- and design methods in his evaluations to answer questions of importance to program administrators and policy makers working on educational and social programs. His articles on evaluation have been published in peer-reviewed journals, including the American Journal of Evaluation and the Canadian Journal of Program Evaluation. He has been a holder of the professional designation in evaluation since 2014.

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