During the gLocal week, the Centre for Development Impact (CDI) organises a series of free, online one-hour webinars about various impact evaluation methods within a theory-based evaluation approach. These will be five daily, stand-alone sessions.
Participants will be introduced to the strengths and weaknesses of several novel methods that can be used within a theory-based approach to impact evaluation. The webinars will cover methods to explore causal patterns in small-N data sets (Qualitative Comparative Analysis), rigorous causal inference (Process Tracing, Realist evaluation), and methods to increase learning and empowerment (Contribution Analysis, Participatory MEL).
Through these webinars, CDI wants to channel the focus in impact evaluation design towards clarifying, verifying, and assessing the importance of claims about the contribution to outcomes and impact. Contribution Analysis provides a step-wise process of iterative reflection about the theory of change and the critical assumptions (or ‘causal hotspot’) within it, with information derived from a wide range of methods combined into an appropriate interlinked research design.
This theory-based approach to impact evaluation responds to the demand of policymaker and funders that need to assess the effectiveness of support interventions with appropriate indicators, indicative of relevance and additionality of projects in relation to other actors and factors that influence the change processes.
Also, it helps development organisations that increasingly need complexity-aware, learning-based approaches to design and drive their monitoring and evaluation systems. Participatory MEL enables practitioners to better understand how change actually happens and impact is achieved in real-time in complex social change contexts – in order to use M&E to fuel impact. The different methods respond to growing awareness of the need for downward accountability and supporting greater feedback from the people affected by the intervention and those designing and funding them.
The webinars present several key modules of the professional courses we organise in the Institute of Development Studies (IDS) and the University of East Anglia (UEA) on impact evaluation, and benefiting from the expertise of the global M&E consultancy firm ITAD. Since 2014, these three partners work together in the Centre for Development Impact – – http:/www.cdimpact.org.