Designing a Formative Evaluation for a Complex System

Barbara MeansJennifer Russell

Barbara Means, SRI and Jennifer Russell, Carnegie

February 28, 2017 at 1pm ET / 10am PT

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This webinar will deal with the question of how to conceptualize and implement a NIC evaluation. Evaluating complex systems such as a Networked Improvement Community requires a multifaceted approach that captures the intricacies of structured social arrangements. This kind of evaluation is distinct from the more familiar approaches of formative and summative evaluation applied to individual grants or to grant portfolios. We describe how NIC activities themselves can fulfill the needs usually addressed by formative and summative evaluations and introduce the concept of developmental evaluation as a needed complement to these approaches. We present a conceptual framework and practical strategies for tracking the development of Networked Improvement Communities. Drawing on methods and insights from several active developmental evaluations of emerging NICs, we highlight how such evaluation efforts can contribute to the ongoing work of network leaders to catalyze and sustain a productive social structure to guide collaborative improvement work.