Past Event

Participation research week

Participatory monitoring, evaluation and learning: Taking stock and breaking new ground

21 September 2021 14:00–15:00


In the context of today’s uncertainty and global crises – such as the Covid 19 pandemic – debates about how evaluation serves decision making, what evidence matters and how it informs policy are ‘fundamental issues’ of our times. Long standing debates about whose voices count when generating evidence, and how equity in outcomes might be understood and achieved are taking centre stage again.

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This event is organised as part of Participation Research week and co-hosted with the Centre for Development Impact (CDI).

Proponents of participatory evaluation have long argued that in conditions of uncertainty, including diverse experiences of change from different stakeholder groups in evaluation processes, and opening up space for them to shape design and practice, can lead to more robust evidence of how change actually happens, and support broader learning and greater use of evaluation results.

In this webinar we reflect on how participatory evaluation methods and practices have evolved and diversified since the participation heyday of the 1990s. We will explore the contemporary landscape of participatory evaluation through the experiences of leading participatory evaluators who use tried and trusted methods, such as Outcome Mapping and Most Significant Change, and novel methods including SenseMaker and Ripple Effects Mapping. We ask what is our collective learning about how to navigate the practice of participation within real-life constraints of contemporary evaluation?

This event is part of the launch of the new SAGE Handbook of Participatory Research and Inquiry.


  • Marina Apgar, IDS Research Fellow
  • Will Allen, Independent systems scientist, action researcher and evaluator

Panel speakers

  • Rebecca Sero, Washington State University
  • Tom Aston, independent evaluator and leading evaluation methodologist

Speaker bios

Dr Tom Aston is an independent consultant specialising in theory-based and participatory evaluation methods. He has worked at CARE International for decade in monitoring and evaluation and governance programming, focused on methods for adaptive management such as process tracing, outcome mapping and outcome harvesting. Since then, he has worked as a consultant for several international development organisations, including CARE, World Vision, VNG International, Integrity, the World Bank and the Overseas Development Institute. He has a PhD in Development Planning from University College London.

Dr Rebecca Sero is an Associate Professor and Extension Evaluation Specialist with Washington State University. Dr Sero has over 15 years of research and evaluation experience in the academic, government and non-profit sectors. At WSU, she leads a statewide evaluation effort and is responsible for increasing WSU Extension’s capacity to assess the effectiveness and efficiency of its programmes and servies. Dr Sero helps conduct and train on ‘In-Depth’ Ripple Effects Mapping through WSU and the REM Studio Collective and is most often engaged with determining how to best analyse the rich data that is produced from REM evaluations. Sero received a PhD in Child Development and Family Studies from Purdue University and a MS in Family Studies from Miami University.

Dr Marina Apgar is Research Fellow in the Participation, Inclusion and Social Change cluster at the Institute of Development Studies. She is a human ecologist with 20 years’ experience working in the research-practice divide alongside marginalised communities and uses power aware Participatory Action Research combined with theory-based evaluation to explore how research for development programmes achieve development outcomes. Together with Will Allen, Marina co-edited the section on Participatory Monitoring and Evaluation and offer a synthesis of reflections from across all contributing authors about what it takes to work towards improving the quality and effectiveness of participatory methods through our practice, focusing on how to build facilitation skills; using humility and honesty to drive the process; embracing reflexivity as practice; balancing principle and pragmatism and finally, understanding the political landscape.

Dr Will Allen is an independent systems scientist, action researcher and evaluator with 30 years of experience in sustainable development and natural resource management. Through his work he seeks to bridge local, indigenous and organisational perspectives, and help diverse groups work together to develop a shared understanding around goals, actions and indicators. Prior to developing his own consultancy and research practice in 2010, he worked for Landcare Research (a New Zealand Crown Research Institute) where he led the Collaborative Learning for Environmental Management group. He is a founding member of the Aotearoa New Zealand Evaluation Association (ANZEA). Since 2006 he has developed and managed the Learning for Sustainability (LfS) website. This site provides a comprehensive knowledge hub highlighting the wide range of skills and processes that are needed to support the constructive collaboration and joined-up action required for addressing complex sustainability issues.

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Handbook discount

You can get a 20% discount on the retail price of the handbook. Use code: UK21AUTH2. This is valid for use on the www.sagepub.co.uk website and for eBook purchases via www.ebooks.com.



About this event

Programmes and centres
Centre for Development Impact

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