Why tracer studies
Tracer studies take a retrospective look at the evolution of a certain intervention. Tracer studies can be part of the midterm review, of the end evaluation or it can take place years after the completion of a programme. Tracer studies serve to provide learning on the longer term outcomes and impact of our programmes; some years after completion we return to the area and the beneficiaries and explore if achievements and changes were lasting. Such knowledge provides trustworthy evidence of the results rendered by a specific programme but equally important: We learn about the causal and dynamic factors – for whom and in what way and gain knowledge which is vital in future programme design.
“As part of the effort to identify effective strategies, tracer studies provide a unique perspective by providing evidence on what have been longer term changes in the lives of former beneficiaries and exploring if and how the intervention contributed to the observed changes.” ILO/IPEC, 2011
There may be challenges with tracer study in tracking previous beneficiaries and questionnaires must be meticulously clear. To keep the cost of collection of information down, local assistants can be trained and using modern smart phone data collection tools will help to ensure valid data.
Contact us if you want to learn more about tracer studies or browse through a manual. You can find a selection on the internet – among others, we recommend ILO/IPEC’s Tracer Study Manual.