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Designing and delivering robust evaluations in complexity

Evaluations that support 'transitions'

  • Need to be undertaken with an eye on the system - rather than focusing only on the programme or policy.

  • Policies may need to support learning across the system rather than just delivering evidence to the client

  • Mixed methods are needed. Evidence and methodologies need to be tailored to evaluation questions and available methods need to selected in light of a deep understanding of programme attributes

  • There may be numerous outcomes and 'outcome pathways' to establish and traced, if causal processes are to be explained and evidenced so that learning about how to replicate effects can be generated.

  • Mapping and tracking trajectories of change will be helpful to ensure the right impacts are mesaured at the right time.

  • There may be many stakeholders who play a part in the change who need to be engaged, their values and stakes understood, and whose contribution to the transition  evaluated.

  • Data about inputs, activity, performance and outcomes may be needed from multiple stakeholders and the data access, data sharing and validation will require mapping and upfront agreement

  • The likelihood of emergence and change in what is being delivered / implemented needs to be understood and anticipation of change factored into evaluation design from the start.

  • A transdisciplinary approach might be needed within the evaluation team to enable mutual understanding and effective communication across different analytical or professional domains.

  • Frequent cycles of evaluation and reporting may be helpful in supporting ongoing learning and adapation across a network, as well as providing 'end of programme' findings.  

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