Around the Institute

Evaluation Trick: How To Add a “Placebo” to Your Survey

February 14, 2014

Upcoming Advocacy Evaluation Breakfast

Surveys, as they are commonly used in advocacy evaluation, often ask key stakeholders to assign rankings or scores to specific advocacy organizations based on their perceived level of policy influence.  However, this approach assumes that the starting point for these scores is zero, which may not be the case. To address this survey design challenge, the authors of “Measuring the Influence of Education Advocacy: The Case of Louisiana’s School Choice Legislation” developed an instrument they call Survey with Placebo (SwP). Two of the report authors, Grover “Russ” Whitehurst and David Stuit will be on hand Feb. 26th to talk about this method and their report. RSVP here so we can properly caffeinate and carbohydrate you!

Ask the customer! 

We’ve been hearing lately about the use of Design Thinking in evaluation.  We try to keep up with what the cool kids are saying. Sometimes, the cool guys find a new way to describe ideas that ought to be familiar:  like paying attention to feedback from the people we aim to help, and building in genuine feedback loops to keep shaping improvements. Here’s a simple instance, and a shout-out for the smart Design Thinkers at Pathfinder International-Tanzania. 

For the People, By the People

Voice of the People (VOP) is a new non-profit organization that creates interactive online policy making simulations, where the American people can be briefed on issues, evaluate arguments for and against various policy options, and make recommendations based on their opinions. Last Friday, VOP shared how a representative sample of Americans would deal with the Social Security crisis.  Overwhelming majorities of both Republicans and Democrats favored the same steps to largely address social security insolvency. Given the right information and tools, Americans can actually come to a consensus quicker than their gridlocked congressional representatives. Whodathunkit?