Impact Management Planning and Evaluation Ladder (IMPEL)

Project Impact Plan

Impact is the difference that a project makes in its sphere of influence, both during and after the funding period. Maximising impact requires forecasting and planning.

The IMPEL model provides a framework for describing different types of change that can be achieved through educational development projects. Each stage, or ladder rung, is incrementally broader in impact than the last. These rungs are:

  1. Changes for project team members

  2. Changes by project team members leading to changes for students who are directly influenced

  3. Contributions to knowledge in the field; growth or spread of disseminated ideas; serendipitous adoption/adaptation by people beyond the project's intended reach

  4. Changes by opportunistic adopters at participating institutions leading to changes for students who are directly influenced

  5. Systemic changes at participating institutions leading to changes for all relevant students

  6. Changes by opportunistic adopters beyond participating institutions leading to changes for students who are directly influenced

  7. Systemic changes beyond participating institutions leading to changes for all relevant students.

The IMPEL model offers both a prompt for project teams in the planning, execution and reflection stages of educational development projects, as well as a cogent frame for funding agencies to enunciate expectations, make funding decisions and evaluate the efficacy of funding schemes in facilitating strategic educational change.

Project Impact Matrix

Both the matrix and the questions below, provide a structure to prompt active and ongoing consideration and re-evaluation of impact and how it may be maximised given the evolution of the project. Maintaining updated responses to the template is not a reporting requirement, rather a strategic steering tool for the project. The responses to the questions below, including input to the matrix, are expected to change over the life of the project as the work and results progress. Text is not expected in every cell.

Anticipated changes

Project completion

6m post-completion

12m post-completion

24m post-completion

Team members





Immediate students





Spreading the word





Narrow opportunistic adoption





Narrow systemic adoption





Broad opportunistic adoption





Broad systemic adoption





  1. What indicators exist that there is a climate of readiness for change in relation to your intended project? 

  2. In brief and indicatively, what impacts (changes and benefits) do you expect your project to bring about, at the following levels and stages of the Impact Management Planning and Evaluation Ladder (IMPEL)?♯
  3. What are your strategies for engaging with stakeholders throughout the project? 

  4. How will you enable transfer* that ensures your project remains impactful after the funding 

  5. What barriers may exist to achieving change in your project? 

  6. How will you keep track of the project's impact? What analytics may be useful? 

  7. How will you maintain relevant project materials for others to access after the project is 


Examples of project impact mapped to the IMPEL Model

1. Team members

  • Recognition of project participants' contributions to learning and teaching through promotion and awards

2. Immediate students

  • Project team members' students report benefits of being more networked through an online tool 

  • Changes to curriculum by project team members equip students to feel more work-ready

3. Spreading the word

  • Special issues of journals that further explore themes of the grant
  • Publications from a grant cited fifty-eight times in other publications 

  • An updated online resource to support robust curriculum planning for 
teaching of Australian literature 

  • Materials used to promote teaching quality to international prospective students and partner universities
  • Cascading influence through engagement with the early childhood sector 
and relevant government departments 

  • Receipt of national and international awards recognising outstanding 
practice along with sustained high rates of downloads, views and linking

4. Narrow opportunistic adoption

  • Education students supported to develop resilience, a factor in retaining staff in the teaching profession

5. Narrow systemic adoption

  • Online graduate attributes system deeply embedded across an entire school 

  • Almost three quarters of a million dollars of industry and philanthropic funds secured for the lead institution to further the work started by the grant 

  • University-wide academic leadership program with ongoing funding based on the success of the grant project 

6. Broad opportunistic • adoption

  • Professional development delivered to an estimated 20% of science academics in Australia
  • An estimated 2,500 students benefited from active learning materials in undergraduate science programs

7. Broad systemic adoption

  • Report cited as key evidence for a wage increase across the profession

  • Changes to professional accreditation requirements ensuring students are better equipped for study and employment

These examples were gathered from completed projects by Tilly Hinton while seconded to the Office for Learning and Teaching in 2012-13.