Process & Developmental Evaluation

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These days, organizations, governments and communities are frequently being challenged to address complex problems. These are problems that don’t lend themselves to easy solutions because they are the result of many interacting factors. Complex issues are also characterized by the fact that the “solution” to an issue does not lie with one single group; it can only be found by working together systematically with various stakeholders who each have their own perspective on the problem – and who each “own” a piece of the solution.

Some examples of complex issues include developing new approaches to address social issues like homelessness, crime prevention or urban intensification; or addressing an environmental issue such as climate change.

The path to developing solutions to complex problems is seldom straightforward; it involves clarifying assumptions about the problem, making decisions about which path to follow, testing solutions on a small scale, and capturing the insights learned along the way so they can be used in the future.

One World uses approaches such as the Theory of Change, and Developmental and Process Evaluations to help groups through the process of engaging with complex issues. These approaches help diverse groups to engage effectively in these issues, to have the conversations that can generate new understandings and approaches, and to support the learning that leads to innovation.

Using Social Movements to Support Culture Change – the Case of Health Promoting Schools


Developmental evaluation is a very useful tool in helping organizations to understand complex social issues. It was used to evaluate and inform the approach for the Health Promoting Schools movement across Canada.

What is Health Promoting Schools?

Obesity and overweight rates among children and youth are a major public health concern today. Schools are ideally placed to be organizations that promote healthy lifestyles for children and youth. Kids attend school 5 days a week, 7 hours a day, for 10 months a year from the time they are 4 years old until they reach the age of 17 or 18. All this time covers an extremely important developmental period in their lives. Yet most schools view health promotion as something that only happens in Phys Ed or Health class – perhaps a couple of hours a week at most.

What We Learned: 5 Lessons For Ending Youth Homelessness

Communities across the country are taking part in an exciting new initiative that is designed to help end youth homelessness. They have been embarking on the process of developing coalitions, researching the issue and starting dialogues in order to develop solutions and to generate community momentum around this issue. The Mobilizing Local Capacity (MLC) initiative, […]

Pioneering New Approaches To Address Youth Homelessness

How can developmental evaluation help communities take action to address a complex problem such as youth homelessness? The Problem: Youth Homelessness Youth homelessness is a significant national problem in Canada. Approximately 235,000 individuals, youth and families experience homelessness per year. Of these, approximately 20% are youth aged 16-24.[1] Youth homelessness is a largely hidden problem […]

Why We Evaluate Engagement Initiatives

We evaluate aspects of our life and work every day: we might start a new fitness routine and check out our progress in six weeks, or switch to a different software program and then evaluate how effective it is, or where we are with it. We evaluate the minor and the major to answer a […]

The ‘Big 3’ Types of Evaluation

Evaluations are not one-size-fits-all. The appropriate type of evaluation depends largely on the purpose of the evaluation. A formative evaluation focuses on ways of improving and enhancing programs. They are often done through a quality-improvement lens, and may be process-oriented or impact/outcome-oriented. Formative evaluation can be done at any stage of a program. It can […]

Meeting the Challenge of Comparability

Public engagement initiatives vary in size, scope, time frame and purpose, from projects with tens of thousands of participants around the world to panels involving 10 citizens from across town. The objectives may be to effect a change, to do things better, to foster involvement, to increase knowledge and/or to build common ground. Whatever the […]

How to Make Evaluation Practical

As a professional field of endeavour, public engagement is relatively new. In the past, it has not been a priority to collect and disseminate evidence on the impact and efficacy of engagement initiatives, but that is changing. By combining qualitative evidence with quantitative data we can determine to what extent  an initiative was successful, if […]

Planning for Effective Evaluation

Currently most public engagement is done because morally it’s the “right thing to do.” If you are affecting people’s lives, you should ask them about it. But can we do more? Can we demonstrate the value and impact of public engagement – the difference  that it can make? This is one of the biggest challenges […]

What Are the Main Features of a Developmental Evaluation?

Developmental evaluation can be especially useful in helping to deal with complex issues where more conventional approaches to evaluation fall short. It is a way to support the development and testing of creative approaches to address complex problems; it is well-suited to those situations where you are “learning as you go”. Jamie Gamble describes three […]

Is Developmental Evaluation Right for Your Program?

When you hear the word “evaluation,” you might think of it as something that is done after the fact. That would be fair, because that’s when many evaluations take place — after an event, program, or course. Evaluations typically tell us how we did, as well as what we could have done better. While this […]

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One World Inc (OWI)
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