Handout from session at 2011 AEA/CDC Summer Evaluation Institute
Description: Developmental evaluation (DE) is especially appropriate for innovative initiatives or organizations in dynamic and complex environments where participants, conditions, interventions, and context are turbulent, pathways for achieving desired outcomes are uncertain, and conflicts about what to do are high. DE supports reality-testing, innovation, and adaptation in complex dynamic systems where relationships among critical elements are nonlinear and emergent. Evaluation use in such environments focuses on continuous and ongoing adaptation, intensive reflective practice, and rapid, real-time feedback. The purpose of DE is to help develop and adapt the intervention (different from improving a model). This evaluation approach involves partnering relationships between social innovators and evaluators in which the evaluator’s role focuses on helping innovators embed evaluative thinking into their decision-making processes as part of their ongoing design and implementation initiatives. DE can apply to any complex change effort anywhere in the world. Through lecture, discussion, and small-group practice exercises, this workshop will explore the basics of DE and position DE as an important option for evaluation in contrast to formative and summative evaluations as well as other approaches to evaluation.
Audience: Evaluators working in any context.
Michael Quinn Patton is an independent consultant and professor at the Union Institute. An internationally known expert on Utilization-focused Evaluation, this workshop is based on his just published new book, Developmental Evaluation: Applying Complexity Concepts to Enhance Innovation and Use (Guilford, 2010).