Workshop: Understanding the effects of development interventions: Theory-based impact evaluation in practice.

A three-day workshop jointly organised by Maastricht University and the University of Antwerp.

Date: April 28-30, 2010
Venue: Institute of Development Policy and Management, Lange Sint Annastraat 7, 2000 Antwerp, Belgium


In the past few years development organizations in both North and South have focused on improving evaluations of development interventions. As a result, demand for highquality impact evaluation has increased. Impact evaluation refers to the growing field of evaluative practices aimed at assessing the effects of a broad range of policy interventions. As well as enhancing the accountability of public spending in development, it has the potential to be an important learning tool, allowing us to understand what works and why under what conditions. To help impact evaluation to achieve this potential evaluators and policy makers need to open the ‘black box’ of policy interventions. Attention should be paid not only to the changes caused by an intervention but also to understanding how and why these changes have been brought about. In other words interventions should be considered as theories and evaluations are the tools for reconstructing, refining and testing these theories. This is the essence of theory-based evaluation.
The workshop focuses on the concept and application of theory-based impact evaluation in development. It starts with an overview of the key issues in impact evaluation and development effectiveness. Subsequently, the principles of theory-based impact evaluation will be discussed. Particular attention is paid to how a theory of change provides a framework for further inquiry. Starting out from a theory based perspective, different methodological approaches, from review and synthesis of existing evidence to full-scale empirical inquiry, will be presented and illustrated. These methods and modalities can form the basis for an institutional strategy on impact evaluation and learning, which is the subject of the final part of the workshop.

Training Methods

The first part of the workshop will mainly consist of interactive lectures, combining theoretical and methodological inputs with practical illustrations. There will be ample space for debate and sharing experiences. In the second part of the workshop participants will work on a group exercise which will be presented and discussed within the group.

Target Group

The workshop is aimed at development professionals working in different policy areas (e.g. education, environment, agriculture, etc.). Typical participants will be working for governmental or non-governmental development agencies, think tanks, umbrella organizations, and consultancy firms.


Day 1
Morning session
• Introduction – Jos Vaessen
• Changing M&E in a changing aid environment: what role
for (impact) evaluation? – Nathalie Holvoet
• Key conceptual and methodological challenges in impact
evaluation – Jos Vaessen
Afternoon session
• Introduction to theory-based impact evaluation –
Frans Leeuw
• A methodological framework for impact evaluation –
David Todd and Jos Vaessen

Day 2
Morning session
• A methodological framework for impact evaluation –
David Todd
Afternoon session
• A methodological framework for impact evaluation –
David Todd
• Introduction to exercise: developing an institutional
strategy for learning about what works and why –
David Todd and Jos Vaessen

Day 3
Morning session
• Group work on exercise
Afternoon session
• Group presentations and debate – all staff
Closing dinner

Organizers and Teaching Staff

Dr. Nathalie Holvoet
Nathalie Holvoet is lecturer at the Institute of Development Policy and Management of the University of Antwerp. Her main areas of expertise are gender and development and monitoring and evaluation in the context of development. She has lectured on a range of topics such as impact evaluation, monitoring and evaluation in the context of new aid modalities and gender budgeting. On these and other topics she has organized and delivered several tailored international training courses for diff erent institutions. Nathalie has published extensively on impact evaluation and monitoring and evaluation in international journals and books.

Prof. Dr. Frans Leeuw
Frans Leeuw is professor of Law, Public Policy and Social Science Research at Maastricht University. In addition, he is director of the Research, Statistics and Information Center affi liated with the Dutch Ministry of Justice. Previous positions include senior posts in government and academia. He is a former president of the European Evaluation Society. Since 2003 he has been president of the Dutch Evaluation Society. He has authored and edited several books and numerous journal articles on policy evaluation, including the recent NONIE Guidance on impact evaluation. He is a member of several editorial review committees of applied social science and evaluation journals. He has been involved in advisory work for numerous (non-)governmental organizations and he participates in several steering committees on evaluation.

Dr. David Todd
David Todd has 30 years experience of applied social science and development work with UK Government Departments, multilateral, bilateral, NGO, private sector and academic institutions in more than 20 countries in Europe, Sub-Saharan Africa, the Caribbean, South and South-East Asia. Currently an independent consultant, he previously was Senior Evaluation Offi cer at the Global Environment Facility Evaluation Offi ce. David has published on evaluation and development topics in academic journals as well as in numerous policy reports. In recent years, he has served on the Steering Committee of the Network of Networks on Impact Evaluation (NONIE), on the Coordinating Committee of the United Nations Evaluation Group (UNEG), as Co-Chair of the UNEG Impact Evaluation Task Force and as Panelist on theWorld Bank Quality Assurance Group (QAG).

Ir. Jos Vaessen
Jos Vaessen is lecturer at Maastricht University and researcher at the Institute of Development Policy and Management of the University of Antwerp. He has been involved in research and evaluation activities in the fields of poverty alleviation and rural development, mostly in Central America. In addition, he has a marked interest in evaluation methodology. Working on these same topics, he has been a consultant to several international organizations in the fi eld of development cooperation. Jos Vaessen has published on evaluation in the context of (rural) development, including the recent NONIE Guidance on impact evaluation.

Practical Information

Wednesday April 28 to Friday April 30, 2010

Institute of Development Policy and Management
Lange Sint Annastraat 7
2000 Antwerp
See: for further information on how to get there.

Participants will receive a certificate of attendance upon successful completion of the workshop.

The overall fee is 950 Euros. It covers the tuition fees, course materials, lunches, coffee/tea breaks and a closing dinner. Cost of accommodation is not included.

Admission requirements
Participants must hold a university degree (Bachelor minimum) and have relevant professional experience (see target group).
Proficiency in English is required.

Interested candidates are requested to fill out the application form and send it to Ms. Joelle Dhondt (
Deadline for registration is March 31, 2010.

Application Form: Understanding the effects of development interventions: Theory-based impact evaluation in practice.

Further information
On the content of the workshop:
On registration, logistics and accommodation:

One thought on “Workshop: Understanding the effects of development interventions: Theory-based impact evaluation in practice.”

  1. getting together as development practioners helps us to share our experiences from different cultural and economic backgrounds


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