Engaging Students in Knowledge Exchange

 evaluation toolkit cover

Why evaluate student KE delivery?

If you are involved in the funding, organisation or delivery of student KE opportunities, it is wise to consider in advance what the most appropriate evaluation approach might be. A robust evaluation of your student KE will yield many benefits, including:
  • an understanding of what difference the KE is making to others
  • a clear picture of both the benefits accrued and challenges faced for all stakeholders
  • the opportunity to track if your KE is delivering against intended outputs and outcomes
  • clarity around what is working and not working, and why
  • the opportunity to address and rectify any delivery issues in a timely manner
  • the generation of legacy outputs to inform future delivery
  • the ability to inform decision making and strategic direction
  • a contribution to the sectoral evidence base on best practice in student KE delivery
  • a rich body of evidence to help strengthen future funding bids.

How to use the evaluation toolkit

The toolkit is aimed at anyone who wishes to evaluate their own student KE delivery, or those who have been appointed to evaluate a student KE initiative. The document will guide you through some of the essential stages in planning and carrying out an evaluation, with key points for consideration noted throughout. 
The toolkit provides a selection of methodological suggestions, which may be relevant to your own context, as well as proposed research tools and metrics for use in your evaluation. We have also provided some examples of the kind of evidence these tools can generate, based on our experience of evaluating the ESiKE programme at the University of Plymouth. 
Toolkit users should be able to pick and choose what is most appropriate for them, based on the unique characteristics of their own delivery and contexts. Suggestions contained within this document are not exhaustive, and can be adapted or blended with a wider range of tools available for gathering evidence. 
SERIO can be contacted for further advice and guidance on using the contents of this toolkit: serio@plymouth.ac.uk


The University of Plymouth was one of only twenty higher education providers which was awarded funding from the Office for Students and Research England’s competition, designed to explore the impact of student involvement in knowledge exchange (KE). Anchored in the Faculty of Arts Humanities and Business, but with links across the wider University, the two-year ‘Engaging Students in Knowledge Exchange’ programme (ESiKE) had a number of key objectives. These were centred around enhancing our local understanding of the impacts of student KE, not just on students, but also on employers, academics and the University; the identification of what best practice in student KE delivery looks like, together with the generation of tools which will support the legacy of this; and the exploration of barriers to inclusivity in our student KE environment, alongside a commitment to removing these where they may be present.
The evaluation toolkit presented here forms part of the legacy of ESiKE, and has been shaped by our experience of evaluating the programme over a two-year period. It is envisaged that the accessible guidelines which follow will assist others in the evaluation of their student knowledge exchange activities, in order to yield rich impact data, insights and learning, which can inform continuous improvement, and foster best practice in student KE delivery.