The Systems in Evaluation Topical Interest Group (SETIG) was a community created within the American Evaluation Association to provide a forum for ongoing conversation about the use of systems thinking and systems theory in evaluation.

SETIG developed from a series of sessions held during the 2002 AEA Annual Meeting in Washington DC that focused on systems theory and systems thinking. The TIG held its first planning meeting in Atlanta in 2004 (attendance: 4), and sponsored its first sessions in the 2005 AEA conference in Toronto.

SETIG focuses on the use of systems thinking and systems theory as a framework for evaluation planning, design, implementation, analysis, and reporting, across a wide range of content areas, and using a diverse array of evaluation approaches, research methods, and data collection and analysis tools.

Areas of interest to TIG members include:

  • Evaluation approaches that use systems theory to plan, design, and implement evaluation
  • Discussion about how to ground evaluation methods and approaches in systems thinking and theory
  • The contributions of diverse perspectives in understanding issues related to the use of systems thinking and theory in evaluation

TIG leadership places a priority on welcoming members at all levels of experience, comfort, and familiarity with systems thinking. We have a diverse membership of professionals from 35+ countries spanning a wide range of experience in systems thinking and in evaluation. Several members have published books focusing on systems thinking and evaluation, and a number of TIG members have served on the AEA Board, including 2014 AEA President Beverly Parsons.

A priority for the TIG has been to craft offerings and activities that are both interesting and accessible to all systems thinkers, whether novice or experienced. As a result, we’ve seen the focus of our conference sessions evolve along the following lines:

  • defining this thing called systems thinking
  • how we’re using systems thinking in our work
  • how we can support others in the use of systems thinking in evaluation practice
  • developing guiding principles for the use of systems thinking in program evaluation

The SETIG Leadership

The SETIG Leadership Team consists of multiple positions: co-chairs, co-program chairs, and connectivity leads. Each member of the leadership team holds a two-year term, with a previously elected member overlapping with newly elected members to allow a smooth transition. Each role includes the following responsibilities among others that individuals bring to the role: 

  • Co-Chair: lead the TIG by organizing the TIG business meeting at AEA conferences, hosting leadership meetings during the year, representing the TIG in AEA meetings  
  • Program co-chair: coordinate peer review process for AEA conference sessions and work with co-chairs to organize virtual networking and learning sessions between conferences 
  • Communications lead: keep website updated, send announcements to members, and use social media to connect TIG members 

Elections are usually held by online ballot, with the newly elected leadership being announced at the following SETIG Annual Meeting.

You may contact the leadership team through their individual emails, through systemsinevaluationtig@gmail.com, or through this form.

2022 SETIG Leadership

Kimberly Norris, TIG Co-Chair (2020-2022)
Director, Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning (MEL)
American Institutes for Research, International Development

Focus on international development evaluation and learning supports for policy and decisionmaking. This includes applying collaborative, adaptive management to programs, organizational development and capacity strengthening in collaborating learning and adapting (CLA), and systems thinking to support improved understanding of the environment and context in which programs operate. Perspectives, boundaries and relationships critical to systems rely on voices involved in articulating the system. I am excited about ways technology can support remote and in-person collaboration efforts to ensure traditionally marginalized voices are heard and incorporated throughout theory of change designs, learning agendas, evaluation designs, implementation and learning activities. Systems. The SETIG community is super cool and fun, too!

Email: knorris@air.org

Clara Shim, Program Co-Chair (2020-2022)
PhD candidate, Boston College, MA

I am currently a doctoral student at Boston College, with training in program evaluation theory and methods, along with data collection and analysis. Currently, I am working on an evaluation for the Boston College Online Master of Healthcare Administration program, which is centered around effective teaching and learning practices in the online learning space. My research interest also aligns with my current work. I have recently developed a comprehensive framework for evaluating quality indicators of online graduate programs. I hope to build upon the framework and study how such indicators can be best measured.

Email: suhcl@bc.edu