The Centre for Development Impact (CDI) contributes to learning and innovation in the field of impact evaluation, through the use of appropriate, mixed method, and robust evaluation designs. It is a joint initiative between IDS, Itad and the University of East Anglia (UEA).
Debates around impact evaluation have received renewed interest in recent years. Alongside a growing pressure on politicians and policymakers to demonstrate results and value for money, conventional evaluation approaches are being critiqued for lacking in rigour, and/or being too narrowly focused and unable to capture complexity. CDI’s work helps to broaden the range of evaluation designs and methods, providing funders and evaluators alike with valuable insights and tools for evaluative thinking.
We achieve this through:
- Reflecting on methods to support evaluative thinking in complex development interventions;
- Developing and delivering training and learning programmes; and,
- Supporting or implementing evaluations that provide scope for innovation.
CDI helps to design, backstop and implementation of outcome and impact evaluations. At CDI, we place particular value in the appropriateness of evaluation design choices to a specific situation (the questions, the context, the intervention, the purpose, and resources). See below a small selection of projects that we are involved in.
We also value ways in which the perspectives of the poor and most marginalised in society are reflected in evidence and how their voices can be amplified through the process of measuring change (design, data collection, analysis, and use). Often people are viewed narrowly as the ‘subject’ of research and evaluation, yet different perspectives and their framings can enrich both our understanding of the impact, and through the process, empower people to influence transformational change.
Finally, we value impact evidence as a way to improve social accountability to citizens. Knowledge and evidence shape power relations. With increasing flows of capital being used for mission-based purposes, the democratic gap between those making decisions and those affected by interventions is set to widen. We value ways in which evidence of impact can be used (and be part of deliberative processes) that increase accountability to those too often left behind.
CDI’s contribution is to provide a valuable platform from which to engage with (and influence) understandings of development impact, and the methodologies needed to demonstrate it. CDI provides a ‘safe space’ for partners to debate and learn beyond undertaking evaluations; and works across academic, public, private and voluntary sectors, as well as across disciplinary traditions, and a wide range of actors in research, evaluation and practice.
CDI Practice Papers
- CDI Practice Paper 22. Reality Bites: Making Realist Evaluation Useful in the Real World
- CDI Practice Paper 21. Assessing the Relative Importance of Causal Factors
- CDI Practice Paper 20. Contribution Analysis and Estimating the Size of Effects: Can We Reconcile the Possible with the Impossible?
- CDI Practice Paper 19. Understanding and Optimising the Social Impact of Venture Capital: Three Lessons from Ghana
- CDI Practice Paper 18. Getting the Most Out of Participatory Impact Assessment: Reflections from a Multi-Country Cash Transfer Impact Assessment
A series of four developed to support researchers in international development with key monitoring, evaluation and learning processes, such as Theory of Change and logframes for proposal and project design.
- Resource Guide 1. Introduction to Theory of Change
- Resource Guide 2. Seven Steps to a Theory of Change
- Resource Guide 3. Introduction to Logframes
- Resource Guide 4. Developing a MEL Approach
In June 2021, during the gLocal week, the Centre for Development Impact (CDI) organised a series of free, online, one-hour webinars about various impact evaluation methods within a theory-based evaluation approach. This theory-based approach to impact evaluation responds to the demands of policymakers 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.
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.
The recordings for the seminars are now available to view here:
- Giel Ton (IDS) – Contribution Analysis for Impact Evaluation: Learning and Accountability with Mayne’s Six Steps
- Maren Duvendack (UEA) – Theory-based Evaluations: Dealing with Complex Interventions and ‘small n’ Evaluation Scenarios
- Louise Clark (IDS) – Shaping Policy with Evidence: Using Stakeholder Mapping to Identify Pathways to Influence
- Marina Apgar (IDS) & Steff Deprez (Voices That Count) – Participatory MEL: Towards a Systemic Learning Practice
- Mieke Snijders (IDS) – Realist Synthesis for Realist Evaluation of Participatory Action Research
Training and Learning
IDS offers a master module in the post-graduate programme of the University of Sussex: Theory and Practice of Impact Evaluation
The University of East Anglia (UEA) offers the MSc course: Impact Evaluation for International Development
In 2022 IDS offers several professional learning courses:
- Contribution Analysis for Impact Evaluation
- Shaping Policy with Evidence
- Participatory Monitoring and Evaluation for Learning
You can find out more about all of IDS’ world-class postgraduate degrees and professional development programmes that enable individuals and organisations to build the skills and knowledge needed for more equitable and sustainable development globally.