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Impact evaluations: Ways to get it right—Tips for achieving impactful impact evaluations

Impact evaluations: Ways to get it right—Tips for achieving impactful impact evaluations

Raghunathan, N., Mankad, Siddhi and Kumar, Ravinder ORCID: 0000-0002-0157-1310 (2014) Impact evaluations: Ways to get it right—Tips for achieving impactful impact evaluations. In: Hay, Katherine Eve and Kumar-Range, Shubh, (eds.) Making Evaluation Matter: Writings from South Asia. Sage Publishing. ISBN 9789351500278 ISSN 978-9351500278 (Print), 978-9351501480 (Online)

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Evaluation is the process of determining merit, worth, or significance; an evaluation is a product of that process (Scriven, 2007). Evaluations measure what programs/organizations have achieved against the “promise.” Impact evaluations (IE) measure changes in the well-being of beneficiaries or changes in “quality of life.” In contrast with asking whether an intervention is doing the right thing or doing it in the right way, IE is about whether it has the right effects (Jones, Jones, Steer, & Datta, 2009). IE also tries to address attribution, i.e., the degree to which these changes can be attributed to the program. When attribution is difficult, IE can identify plausible contributions each actor makes to the achievement of higher-level outcomes and ultimate impact (Tall & Rugh, 2011, slide 77). To do so, IEs follow various designs, including comparing the differences in well-being between groups receiving program benefits and a counterfactual (a control group of people who do not receive the “treatment”), and the degree of change in well-being of the beneficiary group over time—before and after program implementation. IE can follow different models and frameworks. The appropriateness and quality of models and processes in designing and implementing an IE determine its quality and usefulness.

This paper, based on the experiences of authors in conducting IEs, suggests how a rigorous process in planning, designing, and implementing IEs can help achieve impactful IEs. It describes the potential obstacles for which evaluators need to be prepared and shows how a deeper knowledge of the programmatic context and complexities helps evaluators and other practitioners design better IEs. It reflects not only on the prerequisites of well-conducted impact evaluations, but also examines influential factors specific to each phase of the evaluation. We argue that excellent designs combined with effective implementation allow IEs to have an impact that reaches beyond the program being evaluated.

Lessons are drawn from the four phases that an IE process goes through: ideation, initiation, implementation, and impact. These lessons cover the various stakeholders who are involved (or should be involved) in the entire process. IE studies conducted by authors are provided as good practice examples or experiences.

Item Type: Book Section
Uncontrolled Keywords: Impact evaluation in international development, Evaluation in South Asia, Community of Evaluators in South Asia
Faculty / School / Research Centre / Research Group: Faculty of Engineering & Science
Faculty of Engineering & Science > Natural Resources Institute
Faculty of Engineering & Science > Natural Resources Institute > Livelihoods & Institutions Department
Last Modified: 29 Mar 2018 12:10

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