Evaluation 2017: From Learning to Action

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Building Capacity for Evaluation Use in the United States Agency for International Development: The Road to Better Fit

Session Number: 2731
Track: Organizational Learning & Evaluation Capacity Building
Session Type: Panel
Tags: Evaluation capacity building
Session Chair: Travis Mayo [Evaluation Specialist - USAID]
Presenter 1: Elizabeth Callender [Program Officer - USAID/Senegal]
Presenter 2: Tonya Caprarola Giannoni [Chief of Party - Social Solutions International]
Presenter 3: Heather Britt [Senior Monitoring and Evaluation Specialist - Social Solutions International]
Presenter 4: Thomas Archibald [Assistant Professor and Extension Specialist - Virginia Tech]
Presentation 4 Additional Author: Goele Scheers [Independent consultant - Independent consultant]
Time: Nov 09, 2017 (03:15 PM - 04:15 PM)
Room: Washington 5

Abstract 1 Title: Overview of the Road to Better Fit
Presentation Abstract 1:

This presentation provides an overview of the USAID’s Road to Better Fit, a suite of tools and processes to assist Agency staff and partners to design, conduct and use evaluations that meet their information needs.  The presentation will cover the impetus for development of the Road to Better Fit, as well as its major components and milestones including situational analysis, facilitated dialogues with primary users, participatory design workshops, and tailored technical assistance. Each component will be covered in greater detail by presentations 2 – 4. The presentation will explain how the Road’s tools and processes complement the Agency’s standard operating procedures for strategy, project design, monitoring and evaluation, and describe synergies with other efforts to promote organizational learning throughout the Agency. 

Abstract 2 Title: The Consultative Process: Donor Planning Processes Build Foundations for Evaluation Use
Presentation Abstract 2:

Evaluation planning often begin with an unanswered question or complicated M&E plan. This presentation describes how USAID staff consult with evaluation planners and users to assess the technical applicability and enabling environment for using emerging evaluation approaches. The semi-structured process includes several tools that can be used to facilitate dialogue about priority M&E information needs, the project’s ability to adapt in response to data, and whether current M&E reporting requirements are burdensome. The pacing of these conversations is flexible.


To instill these new tools and processes throughout the Agency, USAID trains Agency M&E specialists to identify opportunities for emerging M&E approaches, and coach evaluation users through the first few steps in the consultative process. During the Consultation Process Workshop participants engage in role-play developed from a real case.  M&E specialists use the tools to facilitate decision-making by evaluation planners.  The presentation will provide an overview of the workshop.

Abstract 3 Title: Participatory Design Engages Diverse Evaluation Users
Presentation Abstract 3:

Two key challenges face those seeking to use an emerging M&E approach for USAID programming: 

  • Competing information needs within and between the donor and implementing partner
  • Insufficient understanding about emerging M&E approaches


The Idea to Design Clinic is intended to address those challenges. Both managers and M&E staff from across the Agency and the implementing partner engage in the participatory workshop.  To build foundations for use, workshop participants:

  • Negotiate competing information needs
  • Strengthen communication channels
  • Identify their preferred means of acquiring and making sense of data
  • Discuss linkages between implementation timing, the pace of change, and scheduling of M&E activities
  • Identify the support they need to use findings for project management


Workshop results include the key elements of an evaluation design or M&E Plan, as well as improved capacity in evaluation planning. This presentation provides an overview of this clinic and provides examples of evaluation challenges addressed in practice. 

Abstract 4 Title: Collaborative Capacity Building for Evaluation Use: An Example of Outcome Harvesting in Senegal
Presentation Abstract 4:

This presentation describes how USAID’s “road to better fit” process was operationalized in USAID/Senegal through an innovative collaboration. The Education and Research in Agriculture (ERA) project of Virginia Tech, with input from the USAID/Senegal Mission, commissioned an expert Outcome Harvesting consultant to lead a participatory external/internal evaluation of the ERA project. With support and technical assistance from USAID, evaluation users worked deliberatively to articulate ideas about the design, the intended users, and the intended uses of this learning-focused evaluation. Outcome Harvesting was selected as an appropriate approach to support learning for ERA, the Mission, and other key stakeholders. Presenters representing the Mission, ERA staff and the evaluation consultant discuss how USAID’s facilitative evaluation capacity building process increase evaluation use.

Presentation 4 Other Authors: Ronit Gerard, USAID/Senegal
Theme: Learning About Evaluation Use and Users
Audience Level: All Audiences

Session Abstract (150 words): 

This panel describes an evaluation capacity building process that the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) developed and field-tested to assist Agency staff and partners to use “better fit” evaluation approaches. USAID staff use a suite of tools and planning sessions grounded in systems thinking to clarify information needs, identify appropriate emerging evaluation approaches, and undertake participatory design to ensure that evaluations meet the information needs of multiple stakeholders and contribute to actionable learning. The engagement of multiple evaluation users in design is foundational for use, and fosters learning in and learning about emerging evaluation approaches. The process includes targeted technical assistance and creative partnerships to support implementation of M&E approaches that are new to the Agency. In a case example, mission staff, an implementing partner, and an evaluator describe how the Road to Better fit promoted learning from and about Outcome Harvesting in Senegal.

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Cancellation Policy: Refunds less a $50 fee will be granted for requests received in writing prior to 11:59 PM EDT October 16, 2017. Email cancellation requests to registration@eval.org. Fax request to (202) 367-2173. All refunds are processed after the meeting. After October 16, 2017 all sales are final. For Evaluation 2017, international attendees and presenters who encounter complications due to the international travel environment will have up to 30 days after the event to request a refund and submit appropriate documentation. No administrative fee will apply for the international requests. The $50 fee will be waived for registrants who planned to travel into the US and experienced international travel issues.