Quantitative research & evaluation methods:

Pre / post evaluation

Pre/post evaluation compares data from two points in time: a “pre” or baseline wave and a the “post” or outcomes wave, to measure change over time.


Many non-profits invest time and resources to implement initiatives that they hope will be successful – whether the outcome is to increase awareness of an artist’s work or to increase youth engagement through new outreach programming. Pre/post evaluation allows a comparison before the “event” is launched and after it has concluded to show the true impact of the event. The “pre” baseline wave serves as a control group to judge the “post” outcomes wave against. Without a baseline comparison, evaluations may fall victim to the post-hoc fallacy, which assumes that simply because A preceded B, then A must have caused B. A pre/post evaluation avoids overstating the influence of the “event.”


Pre/post evaluations are best when there are clearly two points in time for fielding – before the event or activity and afterwards. The event should have a set launch point that introduces the new initiative to the population. This type of study can measure change in perceptions, awareness, and participation.


Pre/post evaluation surveys and fielding protocol are developed in the same manner as all our quantitative surveys, as appropriate for the client. The baseline wave of data collection is administered first, followed by the event. Then the outcomes wave of data collection is conducted, replicating the baseline wave methodology by employing the same survey and sampling from the same audience population. This minimizes differences in responses due to survey questions, fielding methodology, and sampling, leaving change effected by the event.

re:search newsletter

More info

Keep in touch. Sign up for our monthly e-newsletter, re:search, and be the first to know about our reports, articles, professional dialogues, and more.

Our blog. Your comments. Jump in.

March 14, 2014 | Nicole Baltazar

Multiculturalism is key for creating inclusive arts experiences

 »

Last month, Coca-Cola aired its now-famous Super Bowl ad depicting people from various racial, ethnic, and cultural groups singing “America the Beautiful” together in different languages. Among the instant outpouring of polarized reactions to this ad rang much praise for its depiction of a multicultural America. Yet the ad provoked a slew of negative responses as well. Many of the ad’s detractors questioned whether this multicultural America could ever feel as cohesive as an America whose citizens speak a common language, and therefore have taken great strides toward assimilating into a common culture.

More »

In practice...

Pre/post evaluation can be conducted with any audience you need to understand. Here are a few examples: 

  • Website users before and after a re-design
  • Museum-goers about their knowledge of a science concept before and after they view an exhibition on it
  • Museum-goers’ perceptions of the sponsors of a city-wide arts festival
  • Prospective students before and after a school’s new building is launched