Development Impact Attribution: Mental Models and Methods in ‘Mixed Marriage’ Evaluations
Lecture 3: Development Impact Attribution: Mental Models and Methods in ‘Mixed Marriage’ Evaluations
The marriage metaphor will be used to explore collaboration that spans academic traditions and disciplines, researchers and managers, public and private sector agencies. The idea of mental models will be used to explore the ontological, epistemological, contractual and socio-political tensions created by formalised evaluative practice. It will focus particularly on experience with mixing qualitative impact evaluation with other approaches to generating evidence, learning and legitimising public action. It will draw on case studies from the garment industry, medical training, housing microfinance and agriculture spanning three continents.
James Copestake is a professor of international development at the University of Bath. In addition to recent work on the Qualitative Impact Protocol, his recent research has addressed contested perceptions of well-being in Peru, financial inclusion and microfinance in India, the relationship between social policy and development studies, and use of challenge funds in aid management.
Admission: Free and open to all. Registration is not required. Watch the live-streamed lecture here.
Previous lectures in this series:
Lecture 1: The Four Waves of the Evidence Revolution: Progress and Challenges in Evidence-Based Policy and Practice, Howard White (research director of CEDIL and Chief Executive Officer of the Campbell Collaboration)
The evidence movement has rolled out in four waves since the 1990s: the results agenda, the rise of RCTs, systematic reviews, and developing an evidence architecture. This revolution is uneven across sectors and countries and is an unfinished revolution. Drawing on experiences from around the world, this talk will provide a historical overview of the evidence movement and the challenges it faces. Response to these challenges will be considered, including those offered by the work of CEDIL. Watch the lecture online.
Lecture 2: Representing Theories of Change Technical Challenges and Evaluation Consequences, Rick Davies (independent Monitoring and Evaluation consultant [MandE NEWS], based in Cambridge, UK )
This lecture summarised the main points of a CEDIL inception paper of the same name. That paper looks at the technical issues associated with the representation of Theories of Change and the implications of design choices for the evaluability of those theories. The focus is on the description of connections between events, rather the events themselves, because this is seen as a widespread design weakness. Using examples and evidence from a range of Internet sources six structural problems are described, along with their consequences for evaluation. The paper then outlines six different ways of addressing these problems, which could be used by programme designers and by evaluators. These solutions range from simple to follow advice on designing more adequate diagrams, to the use of specialist software for the manipulation of much more complex static and dynamic network models. The paper concludes with some caution, speculating on why the design problems are so endemic but also pointing a way forward. Three strands of work are identified that CEDIL and DFID could invest in to develop solutions identified in the paper. Watch the lecture online.