Learning Evidence Types and Examples

Alexander Pearson
Learning Evidence Types and Examples

The learning evidences they are tests that determine if a student is learning. First, a teacher must determine how he can know that his students are learning and how to collect that information throughout the learning process..

The use of learning evidences has positive effects on the organizational aspect of an educational institution because it facilitates the evaluation of the programs that are being carried out, and thus it is possible to determine the impact and effectiveness of what was intended to be achieved..

However, barriers can be found such as lack of technologies, lack of access to the necessary data, lack of time and other aspects such as the organizational attitude towards the use of evidence. Another difficulty is that the quality of the learning evidence obtained is related to the clarity of which question is to be answered. 

That is to say, in relation to the objective to which one wants to reach thanks to the learning evidences. The learning evidences are divided depending on how objective they are and the type of questions that they answer regarding the students' learning..

In this way, they are divided into direct and indirect evidence. A good evaluation should be based on both types of evidence, since in general the direct ones tend to give objective and quantifiable information, while indirect evidence usually give more qualitative information about why learning may or may not be taking place..

Article index

  • 1 Types
    • 1.1 Direct evidence
    • 1.2 Indirect evidence
  • 2 Other specific types
    • 2.1 Evidence of learning processes
    • 2.2 Evidence on input factors
    • 2.3 Evidence on learning contexts
  • 3 Examples
    • 3.1 Direct evidence
    • 3.2 Indirect evidence
  • 4 References


Within the types of evidence of learning there are two large groups. In the first place, direct evidence stands out, which focuses on learning outcomes such as knowledge, skills, attitudes and habits that are evaluated after completing a program.

Second is indirect evidence, which usually focuses on processes, input factors, and context..

These evidences can help to understand why students are or are not learning, and can be used during the implementation of a program.

Direct evidence

This type of evidence of learning is visible, objective, and tangible. It is a type of evidence that shows exactly what a student has and has not learned. With direct evidence, you can answer the question "What have you learned?".

It is said that this type of learning evidence, by its very nature, could pass the "skeptic" test; that is, a skeptic might doubt certain types of evidence, such as self-assessments on writing skills.

But this same person would have more trouble doubting a writing sample made by the student, and evaluated against clear, standards-based criteria.

Direct evidence is key to evaluating a program, since it provides information on the level of achievement of results within the program. These evidences are usually the most used as statistics in the institutional and political spheres.

Indirect evidence

This type of learning evidence is evidence that the student is probably learning, but does not clearly determine what or how much he is learning.

Indirect evidence can answer the question "What do you say you have learned?" Within this type of evidence are the following levels:


Student satisfaction with the learning experience.


What have they learned from the learning experience.


Using what they have learned in other situations (in the future, studying something else, in the community, etc.).


How what they have learned helps them achieve their goals.

All of the above are indirect evidences of student learning and therefore will also be important in the evaluation of learning programs.

Other specific types

Evidence of learning processes

This type of evidence is really indirect, since it has to do with learning processes such as time spent on homework and learning opportunities..

Although it is a type of evidence that would not pass the skeptic's test, it can provide important information. For example, following the writing example above, one evidence that students are probably learning about writing is that they spend a lot of time on the writing task..

Another example is the use of the library and loan of books related to the subject or specific topics..

This type of evidence is also relevant for program evaluation because it can give more clues as to why students are or are not learning.. 

Another important aspect is that this evidence can be collected while the learning process is taking place and not when it ends..

Evidence on input factors

This is another type of indirect evidence and is related to factors that were given before starting the program, either because the student came with these or because they are related to the infrastructure.

For example, something that may be affecting student learning are factors such as the ratio of students to teachers in class, scholarships offered, teacher training, budget for programs, equipment, etc..

Evidence on learning contexts

This type of indirect evidence is related to the environment in which learning takes place.

For example, the future interests of students, the demands of employers in the area, the needs of the labor market, cultural factors related to learning, among others..


Direct evidence

Here are some examples of this type of evidence that seeks to determine what students learn:

-Archive records.

-Behavioral observations.

-Competency interviews.

-Student work samples (exams, reports, essays, etc.).

-Final projects.

-Defenses and oral presentations.

-Performance evaluations.


Indirect evidence

These are examples of indirect learning evidences, where you can see what the student claims to have learned:

-Learning questionnaires.

-Interviews about how learning helped them.

-Satisfaction surveys.


-Focus groups.



  1. Coburn, C. and Talbert, J. (2006). Conceptions of Evidence Use in School Districts: Mapping the Terrain. American Journal of Education, 112 (4), pp. 469-495.
  2. Kirkpatrick, D. and Kirkpratick, J. (2006). Evaluating Training Programs, Third Edition. San Francisco: Berret-Koehler.
  3. Suskie, L. (2009). Assessing student learning: A common sense guide (2nd ed.). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
  4. Vanderbilt University Center for Teaching (2013). Gathering Evidence: Making Student Learning Visible.
  5. Volkwein, J. F. (2003). Implementing Outcomes Assessment on Your Campus. The RP Group eJournal.

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