Published on Development Impact

Notes from the field: Teaching impact evaluation to policymakers and other non-economists

This page in:

Back in the tail end of last year, I did a post on using workshops with project teams to build impact evaluation design. My friend anonymous requested copies of the presentations.   Since I am in the midst of doing another one of these workshops here in Ghana, I thought it would be worth posting them now.    

As per my last post, there are three: one is an introduction to impact evaluation methods, the second is using it for decision making, and the third is a concept note template (the questions I use to guide the discussion on impact evaluation design. 

A couple of points.

First and foremost, I am not the sole author.   These slides represent the work of a bunch of folks who also teach this including my colleagues in the Development Research Group, my colleagues in the Development Impact Initiative, Paul Gertler, Sebastian Martinez and a host of others.   The presentation on decision making was developed with Ariel Fiszbein.

Second, just to recap the agenda I work then to work with.   Half a day of presentations (the introduction to impact evaluation, the decision making, and a review of the evidence (not included here)) and then a full day using the template for an initial design of the evaluation. Longer training means that folks will learn more – and I discuss some examples of this below.      

Third, a couple of pedagogical points on the first presentation: 

·         As I said last week, it’s key to keep it intuitive.   These slides have some technical language (courtesy of my research colleagues) but it is important to explain them in non-technical language.  

·         For smaller groups, I think it’s key to do interactively – you’ll see some animation in the slides where there is a space for discussion.   I find that a) this helps keep folks awake, and b) this helps me get a handle on who is lost and why.  

·         These slides contain a worked through example of doing an impact evaluation for a fertilizer give away intervention.   I think it is key to do an example that does not come from the field the intervention is in. I just did the example of fertilizer with a team from agriculture and it reminded me why – too much time gets spent on discussing why this hypothetical intervention is a badly designed project. With health folks, this works fine – they know how fertilizer is supposed to work, and they spend more time on the identification discussion. However, when working with a non-agriculture crowd, I try to mention examples of projects from the field they work in so that can see that how it might work (without getting bogged down in program details) and keep the motivation level up.

·         On the second presentation (the decision making one), we used a bunch of examples that might not have ever made it into the published version of papers. But these, I think, are nice papers that show how you can use some of these results for policy.

·         The third presentation is just a list of the questions I try to cover in the day long discussion on the initial sketch of the evaluation design. 

Fourth, some mundane practical points:

·         There are is no color on these slides.   My experience is that there are a lot of projectors out there and the blue isn’t the same in a lot of them. And you don’t know what ambient lighting is going to be.   This adds up to a risk that people won’t be able to read your slides. 

·         Animation is tricky. I think some animation is key here, to keep the discussion going, but too much animation makes going back a pain. 

·         Finally, don’t distribute copies before hand, especially for the first presentation.   It ruins the suspense.  

There are a lot of alternative presentations out there, especially for much larger groups.   A lot of these are also based on trainings that last the better part of a week instead of the shorter 1.5 day model that these are built for, so you will find many more examples and topics I skip (e.g. power calculations).  

One set comes from my colleagues in the Development Impact Initiative who run these large scale trainings for different areas.   Here is one example – there are some motivation slides and then a pretty comprehensive set of method slides (including some in French) – also links to other workshops which include not only other topics, but methods in Spanish and Portuguese.  In addition, you can find a range of evidence review presentations in these pages as well. 

Another good methods presentation by Paul Gertler can be found here and the overall conference program that this was a part of gives you some other realms to cover (scroll down for links to the presentations)

Finally, you can find similar presentations on the cega workshops page (click through to the individual programs for the slides). 

Other links, comments, experiences are most welcome.  


Markus Goldstein

Lead Economist, Africa Gender Innovation Lab and Chief Economists Office

Join the Conversation

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly
Remaining characters: 1000