PROJECT NUMBER: 1623601

Mastering Theory-Based Impact Evaluation

7-8/Mar/2016  •  Maastricht

Introduction
Project Leader
Michael Burnett
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Target group
This two-day seminar is directed towards public officials from EU Member States, candidate countries, the EU institutions and other multilateral institutions, as well as auditors, consultants, staff of NGOs, and other stakeholders involved in the process of impact evaluation of policies, programmes and projects.

Description
In the past, evaluation focused to a large extent on the mechanisms of delivering programmes or projects. In other words, they focused on the implementation process. Relatively little attention was paid to evaluating the impact of interventions that were being financed.

While in recent years substantial efforts have been made to promote and disseminate (quantitative) counter-factual impact evaluation practice there is much less sharing of good practice concerning so-called theory-based impact evaluation. However, while counter-factual impact evaluation can tell us how much impact an intervention makes, theory-based impact evaluation is crucial to increasing our understanding of why certain interventions work or do not work. Without this understanding, it is impossible to improve interventions. In addition, in many cases counter-factual impact evaluation is not actually a viable method, and then theory-based evaluation can still inform how the intervention is contributing to change.

This seminar will therefore focus on this theory-based impact evaluation, drawing on the latest advances made in terms of methodology. The most cited methods – Process Tracing, Congruence Analysis, Qualitative Comparative Analysis, Pawson and Tilley’s Realist Evaluation, Mayne’s Contribution Analysis – will all be covered and put into perspective. Several cases will be used to exemplify these methods. The seminar participants will also undertake a number of exercises to better understand the methods. An important focus of the course will be to show how theory-based impact evaluation can match the rigour associated with counter-factual impact evaluation.

The seminar is aimed at those experienced in impact evaluation who wish to further advance their capability in this field.

Learning methodology
The seminar is based on a range of presentations and interactive group work to enable participants to put their knowledge into practice. The seminar integrates case studies to allow participants to assess the quality of actual evaluations, and how they could have been improved.

Objectives
By the end of the seminar participants will be able to design and commission theory-based impact evaluations.