Steps 7-8

Impacts and Learning (Steps 7 .. 8 .. )

A fundamental step in the evaluation is developing a design that includes methods and measures to understand if an intervention is “working” as intended. This implies:  (i) understanding what successful impact means for an intervention; (ii) developing clarity on the timeline of impact, (iii) developing clear measures  that can be used to study progress;  (iv) the measures need to be informed by the theory of change of the intervention, that is, the results expected to occur and the related mechanisms; (v) the measurement system should include a focus on the dynamic contexts and mechanisms that might be necessary for the interventions to work; (vi) an evaluation design informed by the program theory that can help rule out alternative explanations for changes in key outcomes. Back to the ten steps main page
Learning about the theory of change of the intervention over the course of implementation is key in the evaluation.  Given the nonlinear nature of some interventions, there are likely to be many “surprises” in the processes by which interventions impact outcomes.  An emergent theory of change needs to reflect on the processes by which complex interventions can impact the public good.  Some points to consider in developing an emergent theory of change include:  (i) pay close attention to the  unintended consequences of an intervention; (ii)  both the “macro” social processes and the “micro” individual level contexts that are essential for the impacts of the intervention need to be considered; (iii)  the systems dynamics inherent in the process of change;  (iv) the networks that were critical in creating an optimal context for impacts; (v) key events in the course of implementation that were important for the impact of the intervention.  A wide variety of methodologies are available to explicate the emergent theories of change.Back to the ten steps main page