ECDAN

Theme 1_1_

Systems Expert
Emily Gates, Assistant Professor, Boston College

ECD Expert
Aisha Yousafzai, Professor of Child Development and Health, Harvard University

Moderator
Shekufeh Zonji, Global Technical Lead, ECDAN

Session Description

Join a helicopter talk to explore the terrain of systems- and complexity-informed evaluation. The terrain includes systems and complexity science applications to program evaluation and policy analysis, as well as ways to evaluate systems change. We’ll use an evaluation planning tool to guide our journey and as a future reference. The tool covers evaluation purposes, questions, and methods. Purposes include accountability (internal vs. external), learning (type and level), and adaptation (improvement vs. innovation vs. adaptation). Focal questions address (a) the situation or system, (b) the change process, (c) outcomes and impacts, (d) future scenarios, and (e) value synthesis. There are multiple method options for each question. We’ll spotlight one per question: rich pictures, actor-based theory of change, most significant change, scenario matrix, and evaluative rubrics. Attendees will gain a big-picture view of systems evaluation to show possibilities and resources, setting them up to get started or dive deeper.

Learning Objectives:
Participants will develop a better understanding of the following:

  • Overview of systems- and complexity-informed evaluation and an evaluation planning tool to identify options and resources.
  • Explore a range of possible evaluation purposes (i.e., accountability, learning, and adaptation); questions to address (a) the situation or system, (b) the change process, (c) outcomes and impacts, (d) future scenarios, and (e) value synthesis; and method options for each question type along with resources.
  • Explore one method for each question type with an example application, including rich pictures, actor-based theory of change, most significant change, scenario matrix, and evaluative rubrics.

Session Homework:
Please review the following resource before the session:

  1. Introducing systems—and complexity-informed evaluation.

Watch the Session in English

Watch the Session in Spanish

Speaker Bios

Emily Gates, Assistant Professor, Boston College

Emily F. Gates, Ph.D., is an evaluation scholar, practitioner, and assistant professor at Boston College. Her scholarship explores how evaluation can help people and organizations understand the complexity of problems and influence systemic change, with a focus on systems thinking, values, and equity. She is the co-author of the book Evaluating and Valuing in Social Research and co-editor of an issue of New Directions for Evaluation, which features international cases of systems- and complexity-informed evaluation. In 2023, Gates received an early career award naming her a promising new evaluator from the American Evaluation Association.

Aisha Yousafzai, Professor of Child Development and Health, Harvard University

Aisha Yousafzai is a specialist in child development health. Her research focuses on developing new interventions and approaches to promote early child development, focusing on how to strengthen child and caregiving related outcomes through existing health, nutrition, and education systems. Her research also seeks to understand the implementation structures and processes for early childhood interventions for sustainable impact at scale. In addition, her research seeks to promote capacity development in local communities, services, and systems for delivery of interventions to promote effective and high-quality early childhood development

Explore Other Sessions

Have any questions or ideas for the series, contact [email protected].

For more resources on systems thinking, please visit the Systems Thinking for ECD webpage.