Author Archives: praxis2121

Shifting the Gaze

In program-centred evaluation, we take a technical, structural view of a program/service and assess the component parts (resources, content, flow, grades, completion rates) for their effectiveness as an assembled whole. Usually, we determine success by focusing on outputs. We may go so far as to assess the degree to which the outcomes of the program […]
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Latent Growth Modelling

It’s one thing to identify social impacts that have taken place as a result of a certain program or service. It’s another thing to identify the greater problems that have been avoided with enough rigour that a strong argument can be made about the longer-term impact that a program or service has had on a specific […]
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Theories of Change

There’s a cartoon that shows two academics staring at a complex calculation on a blackboard, and about half-way through the calculation there’s the statement “then a miracle occurs”, to which one of the men says “I think you should be more explicit here in step two”. Indeed, we often marvel at the outcomes of programs and services we deliver, but do […]
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In complex times

Social change generally happens incrementally, although at times there are critical incidents that confront us with the consequences of long-forgotten actions. However, we are all part of complex, interacting and interdependent systems and networks. Whether we like it or not, what happens in one place or time affects us all. In the past, the linear manufacturing […]
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Social Learning for Social Impact

McGill University recently launched a new GROOC (Group Open Online Course) for people interested in connecting and learning with social programming activists around the globe. Details for the course can be found at the following link: https://www.mcgill.ca/desautels/programs/grooc. The 7,000 participants have the option of joining one of many groups on specific topics or of participating as […]
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Guiding Principles for Evaluation

American Evaluation Association Guiding Principles For Evaluators Revisions reflected herein ratified by the AEA membership, July 2004 Preface: Assumptions Concerning Development of Principles A. Evaluation is a profession composed of persons with varying interests, potentially encompassing but not limited to the evaluation of programs, products, personnel, policy, performance, proposals, technology, research, theory, and even of […]
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Considering Collective Impact

In a recent blog posting in the Stanford Social Innovation Review, Gabriela Gandel and Tatiana Glad outline the fundamental principles that underly effective collective social innovation projects, and describe how three specific actions can maximum their social and economic impacts. You can read the whole blog posting here: http://www.ssireview.org/blog/entry/purpose_as_a_collective_practice. They take a business-oriented perspective, but as an […]
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Innovation

Unfortunately, the word “innovative” may be at risk of being the next good word to lose its meaning in the morass of overuse. It appears in all too many reports, documents, promotional materials and websites, and now it’s being used by governments to reframe complex societal and environmental issues as if they were simple targets for re-engineering […]
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Strengthening Community through Social Impact Studies

The term “social impact” is relatively new (1980’s), but the concept is certainly as old as human community: what we do affects others and ultimately affects our community, small or large. The ultimate direction of our community is therefore based on the accumulation of small actions as much as larger ones. Clearly, those impacts can be […]
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Seeing Programs as Eco-Systems

I recently viewed a slide deck called “Evaluating Social Innovation” that Mark Cabaj presented at a Family Service Canada Executive Director Summit, and I saw further evidence that ecological paradigms provide a far more dynamic framework for program evaluation than the more linear, old-style manufacturing images that underly, for example, the Logic Model. Keeping in mind ecological paradigms instead of purely “logical” […]
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