So What?

Testing the Evidence

January 12, 2018  • Aspen Planning and Evaluation Program

The biweekly ‘So What?’ guide highlights advice, events, and tips — mostly from the advocacy and evaluation worlds, selected by the Aspen Planning and Evaluation Program.

This is a test. But this is not only a test.

One of us at APEP high command is qualitatively oriented (cough, English major, cough) and the other is an actual expert in research methods and survey design. So, for some more than others, it is useful to have a clear overview of how to design and test hypotheses about what communications strategies will be effective. Here is such a primer from Karen Hopper at M+R Strategic Services. Ok, it’s partly a promo piece for their work, but fair enough.

Values, Skepticism, and Evidence

Aaron Abbarno at Democracy International offers this thoughtful blog post about resistance to evidence-based programming in the international development field. He discusses the “culture of success” that prevails (too often, in his view) among development organizations who fear the funding consequences if they acknowledge that an intervention does not meet expectations. At the same time, he argues that the “culture of skepticism” driving more rigorous testing may be “misconstrued as the guaranteed path to ‘what works and what doesn’t.’”

Aspen Evaluation Breakfast is back:  Mark your calendars and maps!

On February 23rd from 8:15 to 9:45 AM right here at 2300 N Street — new home of the Aspen Institute’s headquarters — Robin Kane and Carlisle Levine will help us christen our fancy new conference space.  (So pretty). They’ll present a framework for helping evaluators show whether and how advocacy makes a difference. Together with co-authors Carlyn Orians and Claire Reinelt, Robin and Carlisle collaborated on a brief from the Center for Evaluation Innovation on using contribution analysis in policy work. Robin and Carlisle will offer an overview, drawing on five case studies to illustrate their approach. They’ll engage the audience in thinking critically about the interaction between advocates and other influences within a complex multi-actor environment. All this, and APEP’s legendary high-quality breakfast treats. RSVP here!

So What?
Focusing on ‘Effectiveness’ Isn’t Always Effective
December 15, 2017 • Aspen Planning and Evaluation Program