A case study on a design-informed developmental evaluation

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Lam, Chi Yan
program evaluation , design thinking , design , program development , program design , developmental evaluation
Developmental evaluation (DE) is an evaluation approach that aims to support the development of an innovation (Patton, 1994, 2011). This aim is achieved through supporting clients’ information needs through evaluative inquiry as they work to develop and refine the innovation. While core concepts and principles are beginning to be articulated and refined, challenges remain as to how to focus a developmental evaluation beyond those knowledge frameworks most immediate to clients to support innovation development. Anchoring a DE in knowledge frameworks other than those of the clients might direct attention to issues not yet obvious to clients, but which might further the goal of supporting innovation development if attended to. Drawing concepts and practices from the field of design may be one avenue with which to inform developmental evaluation in achieving its aim. Through a case study methodology, this research seeks to understand the nuances of operationalizing the guiding principles of DE as well as to investigate the utility, feasibility, and consequences of integrating design concepts and practices into developmental evaluation (design-informed developmental evaluation, “DI-DE”). It does so by documenting the efforts of a design-informed developmental evaluator and a task force of educators and researchers in a Faculty of Education as they work to develop a graduate-level education program. A systematic review into those purposeful efforts made to introduce DI-DE thinking into task force deliberations, and an analysis into the responses and consequences of those efforts shed light on what it had meant to practice DI-DE. As a whole, this research on evaluation is intended to further contemporary thinking about the closely coupled relationship between program development and evaluation in complex and dynamic environments.
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