Cottages that were accommodation for rubber plantation workers in the days of the Belgian colonial research station INEAC. Today some residents are employees of the station, but others are the families of former employees who have passed away. In practice, even those who are officially employees have little formal work to do, and effectively make do with farming or other activities. © Nyani Quarmyne/Panos Pictures © Nyani Quarmyne / Panos Pictures

Specialist short course

COntribution Analysis for Impact Evaluation

Learn how to design impact evaluations more effectively using a contribution analysis approach.

Many development programmes have overlapping activities that are regularly adapted in collaboration with multiple partners to respond to ongoing changes in the operating environment. Traditional impact evaluation methods that measure differences in baseline and endline outcomes are not well suited to deal with this complexity. Contribution Analysis has emerged as a structured approach that is better able to address these real-world challenges. It consists of a step-wise, iterative process of refining Theory of Change. Mixed method research designs are used to verify the critical and contested assumptions.

You‘ll be introduced to the strengths and weaknesses of several novel methods that can be used within a Contribution Analysis approach to impact evaluation, including methods to explore causal patterns in data sets (Qualitative Comparative Analysis; Explorative Statistics) and qualitative causal inference (Process Tracing, Realist evaluation), and methods to increase learning and empowerment (Participatory Evaluation).

“The course structure was great, with a good mix of group work, theory, and opportunities to apply learning to your own work. The facilitators were approachable and set out a very good environment for learning.
“The course provided an overarching framework within which to view different impact evaluation methods.
“Being primarily a quantitative researcher, I now feel more confident in applying qualitative methods.

Course aims

To equip individuals and organisations to design impact evaluations using a contribution analysis framing more effectively.

Who should attend?

Experienced independent evaluators; programme implementers; early-stage researchers interested in innovative and mixed research methods; and evaluation commissioners including policy makers.

Previous clients include: Better Cotton Initiative; Gatsby Foundation; Global Affairs Canada; Korea Development Institute; Partnership Resource Centre; Rainforest Alliance; Vaccine Alliance (Gavi); World Agroforestry Centre; and World Food Programme.

How you’ll learn

You’ll learn through a mixture of presentations plus Q&A, and individual and small group work around a set of case studies. As the course progresses, you’ll apply your knowledge incrementally – ending up with a ‘finished’ example of a strong, interlinked mixed-methods research design to verify the theory of change of a project or programme.

Learning Outcomes

At completing this course you will be able to:

  • Understand current debates on impact evaluation methodologies.
  • Develop an evaluation design that responds to the evaluation questions and context
  • Choose appropriate methods to gather and analyse data to support conclusions about effectiveness.
  • Critically assess the strengths and weaknesses of the various evaluation approaches.

Key information

From 16 January 2023 until 20 January 2023
Institute of Development Studies

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Complete the online application form

Key contacts

Course staff

Image of Giel Ton

Giel Ton

Research Fellow

Image of Marina Apgar

Marina Apgar

Research Fellow

Image of Mieke Snijder

Mieke Snijder

Research Fellow