Developmental Evaluation

Developmental evaluation provides evaluative information and feedback to social innovators, and their funders and supporters, to inform adaptive development of change initiatives in complex dynamic environments. This entry defines evaluation, describes how developmental evaluation differs from other approaches to evaluation, and explains how developmental evaluation is informed by systems thinking and complexity theory. It then looks at the methods and guiding principles of developmental evaluation and trends influencing the future of developmental evaluation.

In 2014, an American Evaluation Association task force chaired by Michael Quinn Patton defined evaluation as “a systematic process to determine merit, worth, value, or significance.” The task force’s statement continued:

Program evaluation answers questions like: To what extent does the program achieve its goals? How can it be improved? Should it continue? Are ...

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