ECDAN

Systems Masterclass Session 2: Systems and Complexity-informed Evaluation

23 April 2024 – 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 used an evaluation planning tool to guide our journey and as a future reference. The tool covered evaluation purposes, questions, and methods. Purposes included accountability (internal vs. external), learning (type and level), and adaptation (improvement vs. innovation vs. adaptation). Focal questions addressed (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 spotlighted one per question: rich pictures, actor-based theory of change, most significant change, scenario matrix, and evaluative rubrics. Attendees gained a big-picture view of systems evaluation to show possibilities and resources, setting them up to get started or dive deeper.

Participants developed 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.

This session is part of the Masterclass Series on Systems Thinking curated by ECDAN and NORC, accessible here: https://ecdan.org/systems-masterclass/

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