Developmental evaluation

Developmental evaluation
6 contributions

Developmental evaluation


Hello everyone,

Today, we hear about developmental evaluation as one of the approaches to evaluation.

I have some questions about this approach and I would like to invite those who can to give me some clarification.

  • What is developmental evaluation and how does it differ from other program evaluation approaches?
  • When is the developmental evaluation appropriate for establishing evidence to inform planning and program management decisions and organizations?
  • How to advocate for developmental evaluations taking into consideration the context?
  • What are the experiences of those who used development evaluation in their projects or programs?

Thank you,



KABORE T. Prosper

Diplômé en statistiques sociales
Msc en gestion de projet

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  • Prosper Kaboré

    Prosper Kaboré

    Thanks to ALL of you for your contributions, especially to KOFFI, EMILE, MUSTAPHA and AURELIE.
    Thanks to the various shared documents and comments, I have a fairly broad view of the developmental approach to evaluation.
    In addition, I take into account the comments of MUSTAPHA, to propose topics that are more practical rather than theoretical. I will consider this next time.
    Thank you to Aurelie for her comment and it is also in this sense that I wanted to have your opinion especially considering that the developmental evaluation approach is not very well known and we as practitioners can use in our evaluations.

  • Dear Mustapha,

    Thank you for a contribution that raises an interesting issue for the development of this Community of Practice.

    I share your hope that EVAL-ForwARD will serve practitioners, to promote evaluations that are useful for refining development interventions. On the other hand, I would be more nuanced about the place, in our exchanges, of more theoretical contributions, which I do not believe should be restricted to an academic community: on the contrary, our platform of exchange plays an important role in that it makes it possible to build bridges between academics and practitioners. Of course, we do not all have the same time to digest the more abstract inputs, but the opportunity is there.

    As for your substantive question on developmental evaluation, you raise an interesting point, which applies to so many other concepts: that of differences of interpretation. How many times, when reading an evaluation journal, did I tell myself that the author did not have the same understanding as me, on a definition, an approach...

    If I share in my turn, what I believe characterizes Developmental Evaluation, over more ‘traditional’ evaluation or M&E, my interpretation is that Developmental Evaluation brings particular  value in cases where the subject to be evaluated is still too uncertainly identifiable  (e.g. because it is complex or innovative) to allow an evaluation on the basis of already formulated indicators or models. The value add of DE would thus be to accompany the intervention whilst it develops and test its effectiveness according to indicators that the evaluator can develop as the intervention is invented, so as to provide a real-time feedback, and so despite the constraints linked to uncertainty. So it seems to me that there is a real place for this approach, which I perceive as more exploratory - perhaps less mechanical - than the approaches based on change theories known ex-ante. In particular, because often the interventions we evaluate are placed in contexts involving many factors, and in cases where interventions evaluated seek to propose innovative solutions.

    I hope that this interpretation will enrich the set of contributions on this subject and that the whole, although of a somewhat theoretical nature, can feed the reflections and practices of the members of this network.

    Best regards,

  • Hello everyone,

    When I decided to join this community, I had great hope for simple but interesting debates on the importance of M & E in general, and evaluation, in particular, for the development practitioner and to encourage the generalization of its practices for a sustainable development by 2030.
    The debate on developmental evaluation, launched by our colleague Prosper, and which I am following, is a debate that only academics, mastering perfectly the art of "intellectual speculation" can afford because they have the time for that. Moreover, in my humble opinion, such a debate can bring nothing to the development practitioner except additional confusion about the usefulness and importance of both monitoring and evaluation.
    First of all, I note that we are not all on the same wavelength with respect to the concept of developmental evaluation, from what I read in this debate. Some contributions push towards the concept developed by M.Q. Patton, quoted several times in an article and PPT presentation shared by our colleague Koffi; others evoke a concept very close to evaluation in general, which aims to assess the effectiveness and efficiency of interventions, as presented by our colleague Émile.
    In the first case, having read several books and articles of Patton, this one evokes an evaluation approach accompanying the intervention (ie a project, a program, or a policy) throughout its implementation so that the evaluation results are used by the intervention team to improve the performance of the intervention or possibly its continuous reformulation until it meets the needs of the beneficiaries. I believe, to simplify the debate, that this is the expected role of the Monitoring function in any M&E system. Why then do we try to wrap it in a new packaging called "Developmental Evaluation"? If in the team in charge of an intervention, more importance and sufficient means are given to the monitoring function, for instance by developing participative mechanisms in this function, I am certain that one will reach convincing results in terms of performance and adaptation of the intervention, exactly as Patton's "Developmental Assessment" concept proposes. The only difference is that this Monitoring function will be less costly for the team and driven by the internal resources of the team, something that almost all M & E training manuals recommend.
    In the second case, our colleague Émile evokes what is really the role of evaluation since it must focus on the effects and impacts at the macro-economic level in relation to the main development indicators. For my part, and to put it simply, this is what must be attributed to the "Evaluation" function in the monitoring-evaluation system of a given intervention; whether or not we add the adjective "developmental" does not change this "Evaluation” function. In fact, which project or program, or national or sectoral policy, etc does not intervene in the developmental sphere? And which evaluation action of such project, or program, or policy, etc. is not intended to appreciate the effects - especially what are commonly known as end effects - and impacts?

    Having said that, I think our community is made up mostly of practitioners in the field who want to see debates develop that can bring them practical solutions that are appropriate to their problems and that they can implement on the ground. So my recommendation is to develop simple debates on current topics and to avoid unnecessary confusion for our development practitioners. On the contrary, let us help them strengthen their monitoring and evaluation system by further strengthening their "Monitoring" function and further develop their "Evaluation" function.



  • Hello Mr. KABORE,

    In my opinion, the developmental evaluation is an evaluation centered on the dimensions, indices and indicators of development, such as poverty, the indicator of the human development, the nutrition, the health, the education, the food security, the food self-sufficiency, food sovereignty, social equity, environmental sustainability, self-sufficiency. The developmental evaluation of a program would therefore focus on the effects and impacts of the programs on these parameters, sometimes on a global, macroeconomic level. As one might expect, developmental evaluation would be the final stage of evaluation in which the contribution of actions and programs to overall development is sought. This requires upstream a certain rigor in the editing of programs and in their implementation. The obligation of logical framework development and results-based management are certainly ways to ensure a positive developmental evaluation. Of course , the evaluation of the MDGs, SDGs, NEPAD, ... is a developmental evaluation.


  • Koffi Kouame

    Koffi Kouame

    Please find attached another document on this topic (in French).

    Best regards


  • Koffi Kouame

    Koffi Kouame

    Dear members,

    To respond to Prosper’s questions, please find attached an article about developmental evaluation (in French).

    This article presents an application experience in a research perspective.

    Best regards