Build robust learning into developmental evaluation


Developmental evaluation recognizes that complex work requires a more adaptive form of evaluation. It assumes that teams doing the work need faster access to data and need to learn from it in real time. The field of evaluation is just beginning to explore ways to do that. We at 4QP have been deeply involved in creating and applying the tools that support action-oriented real-time learning for two decades. A number of evaluators have completed 4QP’s Emergent Learning Certification Program™ and are bringing Emergent Learning into their developmental evaluations. We partner with these and other evaluators and with clients of evaluation to marry practical real-time learning with developmental evaluation. The tools and practices of Emergent Learning build the capacity of teams to do more than just “make meaning” of evaluation data, but to take ownership of the data and the learning process.


The Colorado Health Foundation sought 4QP’s support to build learning and adaptation into their growth efforts, including aligning their evaluation and program strategy. Evaluation questions typically only center around results and indicators. Starting with several complex initiatives already underway, TCHF used Emergent Learning tools and practices to help people doing the work develop a learning mindset in a way that fosters evaluative thinking, real-time learning and provides data to evaluations. 4QP also supported the efforts of TCHF’s evaluation team to strengthen theories of change with program teams, using Emergent Learning Agendas to identify a few critical learning questions, articulate hypotheses and identify opportunities to test them through implementation, including finding innovative ways to address current challenges. The teams are now far more deliberate about developing good working hypotheses and doing timely learning and course-correction throughout the foundation.

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