DRG Center & PPL Co-Host Third Annual Impact Evaluation Clinic

Mar 14, 2016 by Jessica Benton Cooney Comments (0)

During the week of February 29-March 4, USAID mission representatives from Peru, Macedonia, Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador teamed up with academics, Impact Evaluation (IE) experts, and USAID/Washington staff to design five new IEs during the third annual Impact Evaluation Clinic in Washington, D.C.   

Woman presenting Morgan Holmes, Learning Division, DRG Center presenting on Implementing Impact Evaluations at the Clinic.
Photo Credit: Jessica Benton Cooney. 

"This third Clinic built on positive experiences in Thailand and Tanzania, bringing political science professors together with USAID field officers for an exchange of learning to date and collaboration on future research," said Morgan Holmes, Learning Division, DRG Center. "Holding the Clinic in Washington, D.C., allowed us to add some non-USAID practitioners to the mix. We heard from IE experts from the World Bank and Millennium Challenge Corporation on their experience conducting IEs and were glad to confirm some of our shared findings as well as offered new ideas for how to focus our work going forward."

Man speaking  Darren Hawkins, Brigham Young University, presents at the Clinic on Evidence Review: Information Campaigns, and Rachel Sorey, USAID/Peru.
Photo Credit: Jessica Benton Cooney

The innovative Clinic, co-sponsored by the USAID Policy, Planning and Learning Bureau's Office of Learning Evaluation and Research (PPL/LER) and the DRG Center, provided instruction on the randomized control trial method of IEs, and enabled teams to apply this knowledge to the development of IE designs for new DRG projects. Clinic sessions included insightful evidence reviews from academics, briefings on IE methods and threats, and discussion of real life experiences with IE implementation.

man speaking Victor Merino, USAID/Peru speaking during a panel discussion at the Clinic.
Photo Credit: Jessica Benton Cooney

Participants also learned about IE design, issues such as sampling, power calculations, theory of change, and measurement. "The Macedonia Mission came prepared with a good basic knowledge of the costs and benefits of impact evaluation," said Laura Adams, Learning Division, DRG Center. "Therefore, we were really able to focus in on the key intersection of what the Mission and academic teams both wanted to know about mobilizing civic participation among youth, and what kind of evaluation design might be possible given the practicalities of the program being designed."

participants speakingParticipants during teaching sessions of the Impact Evaluation Clinic.
Photo Credit: Jessica Benton Cooney. 

The Clinic projects, which focused on aspects of civic participation, youth, and environmental justice, will be finalized in partnership with host Missions and academics during subsequent scoping trips. "This year's clinic featured an "evaluation retrospective" by University of Pittsburgh's Steve Finkel, who has been evaluating USAID interventions since 1997," said Aaron Abbarno, Learning Division, DRG Center. "A major takeaway from his remarks is that USAID has become much better at evaluating programs rigorously over the past 20 years. USAID relies on increasingly sophisticated methodologies to make increasingly accurate statements about cause and effect. Impact evaluations complement broader program evaluations; taken together, we can identify and explain wide-ranging consequences of USAID programs." 

This IE Clinic represents an important milestone in the development of the DRG evidence base necessary for telling our story, refining our programming, and developing our staff. For more details about the Clinic, please visit the 2016 Impact Evaluation Clinic website.