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CECAN Short Course: Evaluating Complex Interventions with Process Tracing and Bayesian Updating

Guildford, 15 - 16 Feb 2017
Barbara Befani

Wednesday 15th and Thursday 16th February 2017, University of Surrey, Guildford, UK

Tutor: Barbara Befani

Learning Outcomes:

At the end of this course, participants will have an understanding of:

• Recent debates on methodological appropriateness in impact evaluation
• Different models of causality and approaches to establish and demonstrate causal linkages
• The strengths and limitations of Process Tracing;
• How Process Tracing relates to other evaluation methods;
• When Process Tracing is appropriate for an evaluation;
• What to expect when commissioning Process Tracing components of evaluations;
• How to quality assure the Process Tracing component of an evaluation;
• How to formulate a “testable” contribution claim that explains how and why an intervention has contributed to an outcome;
• How to test contribution claims on the basis of empirical evidence, assessing the probative value of such evidence for a specific claim (and for alternative claims) – i.e. how “conclusive” the evidence isand if more evidence is needed;
• The basic Process Tracing concepts (confirmation / disconfirmation of hypotheses on the basis of observation) and tests (Smoking Guns, Hoop tests, Doubly decisive or Straw-In-The-Wind);
• How to identify the above tests and classify different pieces of evidence as such with the aid of a visual tool;
• The Bayes formula to update confidence in the contribution claim on the basis of emerging evidence and how to use it in practice.

Intended audience: The course is aimed at anyone who wants to gain an in-depth understanding of what Process Tracing and Bayesian updating are and how they work in practice to enhance our knowledge of how and why an intervention contributed to a certain outcome. Policy makers and evaluation commissioners might be more interested in the methods’ requirements, quality assurance standards and in learning what to expect from the process, while consultants and evaluators who will apply the method might be more interested in the practical aspects and tools. The course is for both.

What level of prior knowledge of subject required: Though not required, it is helpful if participants get acquainted with recent debates on methodological appropriateness in impact evaluation vs. the RCTs seen as the “gold standard”; as well as theory based evaluation and in particular contribution analysis.

Tutor Biography:

Barbara Befani, PhD is a specialist in innovative designs and methods for complex impact evaluations. She has a broad overview of possible methodological options and causal inference models and has recently published a tool to assess the appropriateness of a series of methods under different circumstances and facilitate methodological choice. She is an expert of two families of quali-quantitative methods: set-theoretic cross-comparative designs (in particularly QCA, on which she has recently published a book for evaluators) and Process Tracing in its Bayesian probabilistic formalization, about which she has co-authored several articles. A former Research Fellow of the Institute of Development Studies at the University of Sussex, Barbara is currently part-time Research Fellow at the University of Surrey and Research Associate at the University of East Anglia. She is also an active member of the evaluation community and a former Secretary General of the EES.

How to Book – Registration and fee information are available on the University of Surrey online store. If you have any questions please email the CECAN Centre Managers on cecan@surrey.ac.uk

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