Thursday, May 28, 2009

Impact and Evaluation

Perhaps I'm feeling saucy today, but there were two different concepts that I wanted to address and I didn't think that both fit in one blog post. So, dear reader, you are subjected to a Two for Thursday...

So, in the previous post, I mentioned that there is a lot more to be learned from evaluation than just the value of a program. I'm going to change gears a bit here and remind you that I also believe that assessing the impact of a program is very important. It strikes me as a bit reckless to deploy/fund a program/intervention and not observe whether the "thing" done had a positive impact. Yes, I have heard the complaint that it takes quite some time to get to the impact and some change is so incremental as to be difficult to measure, but I find those arguments to be spurious. Yes, some impacts do take time and some interventions are a "drop in the bucket", but there are always shorter term changes that theoretically (yes, back to program theory) are linked to change. Think of them as the stepping stones that lead to the great change. By choosing not to look at some sort of outcome, the evaluator and more importantly, the individuals funding and deploying the program or intervention are being irresponsible.

I'll be writing more on this topic in the next few days and weeks as I struggle with the various arguments that have been made against evaluation of impacts. As always, I welcome comments and questions - especially if you are of the ilk that finds evaluation of impact to be impractical, impossible, and whatever other "im" you can come up with.

Best regards,

Charles Gasper

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