Evaluation

May 04, 2017

What is the future of evaluation in Africa? This is a question on many minds as evaluation professionals ponder global trends in their industry. Participants at the 2017 African Evaluation Association (AfrEA) International Conference in Kampala, Uganda, discussed cultural context at length and generally agreed that increasing African-led evaluations in Africa should be a priority. Kelsey Simmons, Evaluation Specialist at EnCompass, participated in these discussions, where she learned that EnCompass’ efforts to build a partner- or mentorship-style relationship with African evaluators in order to strengthen their capacity were both needed and appreciated.

We sat down with Kelsey upon her return to learn more about her experience at the AfrEA International conference.

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October 01, 2016

What is utilization-focused evaluation and how does EnCompass use this approach?

Utilization-focused evaluation, developed by evaluation consultant Michael Quinn Patton, is an approach to evaluation based on the principle that an evaluation should be judged on its usefulness to its intended user. In his seminal book, Utilization-Focused Evaluation (2008), he argues that evaluations should be conducted in a way that engages the intended user throughout the evaluation to enhance the utilization of findings once the evaluation is complete. This includes facilitating the use of the evaluation by presenting actionable, evidence-based recommendations, as well as...

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May 16, 2016
Children in Myanmar playing with a tablet.

Co-written with Jaime L. Jarvis

How do project implementers design an intervention in a dynamic environment, when they don’t know how beneficiaries will respond? And how do evaluators design a flexible process to get decision-makers the information they need, when the theory of change is participant-driven and activities involve substantial grassroots initiative? One recent EnCompass evaluation explores these questions—with exciting results.

Isolated for decades, Myanmar (Burma) is in the midst of a political and economic transition. As part of that transition, the Internet is opening the doors to uncensored information for the first time—with incredible speed.

The change is visible in Myanmar’s...

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March 30, 2016

In September 2015, the 193 Member States of the United Nations signed the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. This global framework of 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and 169 associated targets will guide national and international public policy. Over the next 15 years, with these new Goals that universally apply to all, countries will mobilize efforts to end all forms of poverty, fight inequalities and tackle climate change, while ensuring that no one is left behind....

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September 29, 2015
Primary level students in a rural Zambian community school (c/o Zachariah Falconer-Stout)

Written in collaboration with Lyn A. Messner, Associate Director, Technical Assistance & Evaluation

The USAID Education Strategy approaches education as both foundational to human development and critically linked to economic growth and democratic governance. Education raises individual incomes and improves health outcomes. Access to education is a crucial precondition to educational impact, but what matters most thereafter is the quality of education. Recognizing these important links to other powerful drivers of development, EnCompass has recently developed a number of...

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September 01, 2015

This guest post was written by Christy Allison and Maria Brindlmayer of JBS International, Inc. JBS is an EnCompass partner on the USAID Evaluation Services IDIQ contract.

In a recent conversation we heard someone ask: “If impact evaluations are so powerful, why don’t we just use them more often?” Impact evaluations are sometimes characterized as the most important evaluations, and among them, the randomized control trials (RCTs) as the “gold standard”. What makes them so coveted is their ability to assign causality, i.e., being able to measure the change in a development outcome and attribute it to a defined intervention. Donors and implementers want to invest in interventions...

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June 10, 2015

We often hear the term “value engineering” in reference to health care or the construction industry. While the term has sometimes seemed synonymous with cost cutting, at its heart, value-engineering is meant to enhance the value of a product, system or service by taking a function-oriented, systematic, team approach that results in the biggest bang for money spent.

Value engineering aims to figure out how exactly to provide quality services within constrained environments.  Caroline Heider, Director General of the Independent Evaluation Group of the World Bank, calls it “value for money” evaluation. In a blog post on this topic, Heider adds “for whom?”, and urges clients and implementers of evaluation to...

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September 03, 2014
Tessie Catsambas being interviewed for Canal Futura's news report.

August 6th was the kick off date for a conference put together by leading private foundations in Brazil to address the role of evaluation in the social programs they fund.  The Conference, entitled Evaluation of Investment in the Social Private Sector: an Organizational Strategy, is part of a larger effort to embed evaluation in civil society in Brazil. The conference provided a forum to engage peer-to-peer exchanges and involve evaluation specialists in relevant discussions, and to build partnerships with new actors such as universities, the Brazilian evaluation sector, and others, to develop of the evaluation field in Brazil.

The event was sponsored by several important foundations including Fundação Itaú Social (a major bank in Brazil); Fundação...

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July 15, 2014
Kostas Hatzis 2010*

The European Evaluation Society (EES) has selected an inspiring topic for the upcoming EES 2014 Conference, “Evaluation for an Equitable Society,” because as evaluators we need to think about and discuss the role evaluation can play in equity, gender equality and social justice. So, I have been thinking about how I build equity in my own practice, the challenges I face, and the questions this raises for my own practice.

My reflection of issues of equity and social justice brought to mind an old favorite Greek song called “We, the humble people”. It is sung by Kostas Hatzis, and written by lyricist Sotia Tsotou, who has written several really powerful songs around issues of social justice. Hatzis was born in...

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April 23, 2014
Grantees developing evaluation questions using a facilitation technique called Brainwriting.

Written by Jonathan Jones

Michael Quinn Patton’s publication, Utilization-Focused Evaluation, catalyzed a discussion on evaluation use that has continued for over 30 years. The first step in operationalizing this discussion is to glean the priorities of the client and evaluands in the design process. Fully understanding and eliciting their priorities can be done in a creative, respectful, and fun way that is rewarding for all involved- and that’s exactly what we set out to do for the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.

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