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Evaluation + Design: Evaluating Systems Change

Calgary, AB - November 13-14, 2018

Join us for a new evaluation workshop where we dive into one of the most critical challenges in today’s evaluation landscape – designing evaluations for systems change.

Community change initiatives are working on a diversity of issues across the country, such as early childhood development, health care, education, poverty and homelessness, immigration and workforce development, but evaluating the progress and impacts of these initiatives is an ever-present challenge.

In the last six years, the Tamarack Institute team has run 10 iterations of the Evaluating Community Impact: Capturing and Making Sense of Community Outcomes workshop, a three-day session to introduce social innovators, evaluators and funders of community change initiatives to the latest and most practical evaluation ideas and practices.

Building on the series, the Evaluation + Design: Evaluating Systems Change workshop aims to go deeper on one of the most critical – and difficult to assess – challenges of making sustained progress on complex issues: evaluating the changes in the systems underlying complex challenges. As Karen Pittman, CEO of the Forum on Youth Investment and past presenter with the Tamarack Institute noted:

"Programmatic interventions help people beat the odds; systemic interventions help change the odds for people." 

Our Evaluation + Design workshop format provides workshop participants a step by step approach integrating innovation and design techniques with developmental evaluation approaches to develop a scope of work to assess their system change efforts, including:

1. A review of the foundational ideas around evaluation, systems thinking and systems change.
2. A new results framework that outlines ‘archetypical’ outcomes in systems change efforts
3. A template for designing evaluation scopes of work.
4. A set of principles to guide innovators and evaluators in designing and implementing system change evaluations.
5. An exploration of a dozen methods and techniques that should be part of any system change evaluation tool box – and links to scores of other resources for those interested in more.
6. The use of interactive exercises, case studies, and real world vignettes to make ideas and methods concrete.

This workshop is best suited to those who have an interest and some basic knowledge and experience with evaluation and are eager to tackle the challenging but critical task of getting feedback on local efforts to change communities. It is not designed for professional evaluators with extensive experience in evaluating systems change. 

“I had struggled in the past with how to conceptualize evaluating change at the community level, and now I understand with great clarity how to proceed with doing this.”

“The evaluation workshop provided a wonderful opportunity to reflect on the work I do, share ideas and experiences with others doing similar work, and the opportunity to explore certain concepts in more detail.”

“The presentations and speakers worked for me because they represented a different orientation to evaluation than the traditional models I am used to. Every part of the workshop helped to reinforce this new point of view.”

Who Should Attend?

This workshop is for you if:

- You manage programs that need to be evaluated

- You are part of a collaborative that is trying to understand how to evaluate

- You are a community development professional who wants to make the connection between learning and systems change

- You are in a Collective Impact network and wanting to understand shared measurement

- Evaluation is part of your job description



Learning Agenda

Highlights of the learning agenda:
  • Understanding systems and implications for evaluation
  • A design approach to evaluation
  • Principles and practices for systems change evaluation
  • Choosing the right evaluation methods for your context
  • Capturing policy change results
  • Understanding contributions to change
  • Communicating and using results of systems change evaluation
  • Prototyping evaluations

See Full Agenda

Curriculum Team

This workshop will be led by Mark Cabaj and Galen MacLusky. Mark is a leading practitioner in Canada in developmental evaluation and has worked in community change his entire life. Galen is Tamarack's Community Innovation Consulting Director; prior to joining Tamarack, Galen was an independent consultant and head of the social sector practice at Bridgeable, a leading Canadian service design consultancy.

Together, they have designed this workshop to incorporate their practical experiences in designing evaluations for systems change, as well as the challenges and opportunities they've faced doing so. 

Learn About the Faculty


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