A Shift in Evaluation

Not narrowly conceived to defend or prove, context-responsive evaluation can be used throughout the research inform the framing of concepts, quickly test iterations, track assumptions, surface unintended consequences and evidence early outcomes. Developmental Evaluation specifically responds to the realities of complex, dynamic social environments by embedding evaluation throughout a program to create learning loops that can inform adaptive change. Democratic, participatory and rapid evaluation approaches can also be relevant in a variety of contexts, with a diversity of methods that can be used to directly engage partners and beneficiaries in the evaluation process.

The value of evaluating continuously is to iteratively reassess your theory of change. For example, If a research plan assumes an information flyer placed in doctors waiting rooms will lead to early detection and more positive prognoses, retrospective assessment would bluntly measure whether the new knowledge had an impact on the patients. Early understanding of why the flyer might be failing to translate the research is essential to bolster the potential for positive outcomes. Continuous evaluation also monitors research assumptions throughout. Is there poor uptake because no one sees the flyer in and amongst waiting room magazines? Is the form of communication misguided because people need a conversation with their doctor? Is the lack of uptake a question of content because people are unsure of next steps?