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Ten steps to making evaluation matter


  • Sridharan, Sanjeev
  • Nakaima, April


This paper proposes ten steps to make evaluations matter. The ten steps are a combination of the usual recommended practice such as developing program theory and implementing rigorous evaluation designs with a stronger focus on more unconventional steps including developing learning frameworks, exploring pathways of evaluation influence, and assessing spread and sustainability. Consideration of these steps can lead to a focused dialogue between program planners and evaluators and can result in more rigorously planned programs. The ten steps can also help in developing and implementing evaluation designs that have greater potential for policy and programmatic influence. The paper argues that there is a need to go beyond a formulaic approach to program evaluation design that often does not address the complexity of the programs. The complexity of the program will need to inform the design of the evaluation. The ten steps that are described in this paper are heavily informed by a Realist approach to evaluation. The Realist approach attempts to understand what is it about a program that makes it work.

Suggested Citation

  • Sridharan, Sanjeev & Nakaima, April, 2011. "Ten steps to making evaluation matter," Evaluation and Program Planning, Elsevier, vol. 34(2), pages 135-146, May.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:epplan:v:34:y:2011:i:2:p:135-146

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Pluye, Pierre & Potvin, Louise & Denis, Jean-Louis, 2004. "Making public health programs last: conceptualizing sustainability," Evaluation and Program Planning, Elsevier, vol. 27(2), pages 121-133, May.
    2. Michael Woolcock, 2009. "Toward a plurality of methods in project evaluation: a contextualised approach to understanding impact trajectories and efficacy," Journal of Development Effectiveness, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 1(1), pages 1-14.
    3. Johnson, Knowlton & Hays, Carol & Center, Hayden & Daley, Charlotte, 2004. "Building capacity and sustainable prevention innovations: a sustainability planning model," Evaluation and Program Planning, Elsevier, vol. 27(2), pages 135-149, May.
    4. L. Randall Wray & Stephanie Bell, 2004. "Introduction," Chapters,in: Credit and State Theories of Money, chapter 1 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    5. Philippe Robert-Demontrond & R. Ringoot, 2004. "Introduction," Post-Print halshs-00081823, HAL.
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    Cited by:

    1. Sridharan, Sanjeev & Jones, Bobby & Caudill, Barry & Nakaima, April, 2016. "Steps towards incorporating heterogeneities into program theory: A case study of a data-driven approach," Evaluation and Program Planning, Elsevier, vol. 58(C), pages 88-97.
    2. Cole, Donald C. & Levin, Carol & Loechl, Cornelia & Thiele, Graham & Grant, Frederick & Girard, Aimee Webb & Sindi, Kirimi & Low, Jan, 2016. "Planning an integrated agriculture and health program and designing its evaluation: Experience from Western Kenya," Evaluation and Program Planning, Elsevier, vol. 56(C), pages 11-22.
    3. Okwaro, Ferdinand M. & Chandler, Clare I.R. & Hutchinson, Eleanor & Nabirye, Christine & Taaka, Lilian & Kayendeke, Miriam & Nayiga, Susan & Staedke, Sarah G., 2015. "Challenging logics of complex intervention trials: Community perspectives of a health care improvement intervention in rural Uganda," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 131(C), pages 10-17.
    4. Clark, Alexander M., 2013. "What are the components of complex interventions in healthcare? Theorizing approaches to parts, powers and the whole intervention," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 93(C), pages 185-193.
    5. Mehdipanah, Roshanak & Manzano, Ana & Borrell, Carme & Malmusi, Davide & Rodriguez-Sanz, Maica & Greenhalgh, Joanne & Muntaner, Carles & Pawson, Ray, 2015. "Exploring complex causal pathways between urban renewal, health and health inequality using a theory-driven realist approach," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 124(C), pages 266-274.


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