7 - 9 November 2023

Online, 13:00 - 17:00 GMT (all days)

Fully Booked!

Contribution Analysis for Robust Evaluation Design

A pragmatic approach to operationalise theory-based evaluation

Contribution Analysis has emerged as a structured approach to address the real-world challenges of evaluating impacts of complex interventions. It consists of a step-wise, iterative process of refining theories of change. Mixed method research designs are used to verify the critical and contested assumptions (‘causal hotspots’). The course explains the approach and introduces you to methods that are often used to assess the contribution of a program and reflect on the importance of the change that results from that contribution.

Learning Outcomes:

Through this course you will be able to:

  • Recognise why contribution is different than attribution and implications for evaluation design.
  • Choose appropriate methods to select and verify ‘causal hotspots’ in the theory of change.
  • Critically assess the strengths and weaknesses of several methods in order to be able to combine them purposefully in a robust evaluation design.

Intended Participants 

This is an intermediate course that targets relatively experienced independent evaluators, programme implementers, and evaluation commissioners who need to understand or design appropriate mixed-methods evaluations in conditions of complexity.

Tutor Bios

Giel Ton is Research Fellow at the Institute of Development Studies and the Centre for Development Impact He specialises in the design of mixed-methods impact evaluations in private-sector development programmes. He promotes contribution analysis as an overarching approach of theory-based evaluation and a stepwise process to identify the hotspots where additional data collection and reflection are needed. He has a special interest in the effectiveness of programmes that aim to improve governance and coordination in agricultural value chains and empower smallholder farmers in collective action. He has published about the methodological challenges of impact evaluation of development interventions in the journal Evaluation and the IDS Bulletin. He has advanced skills in both qualitative and econometric research.

Marina Apgar is a Research Fellow at the Institute of Development Studies and the Centre for Development Impact. She is a human ecologist with 20 years of experience working directly with marginalised communities in international development across the research-practice divide, supporting locally defined development pathways. Throughout her work, Marina uses a systems approach to participatory action research. Her current evaluation research interests include development and implementation of complexity-aware monitoring, evaluation and learning systems, combining theory based and participatory evaluation methodologies.  She accompanies foundations, bilateral donors and development practitioners as they learn to improve their practice. She edited the SAGE Handbook of Action Research section on Participatory Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning and convenes courses on participatory evaluation and how to assess the strength of evidence in qualitative case-based evaluation.

Mieke Snijder is a research fellow in the participation, inclusion and social change cluster at the Institute of Development Studies. Her research primarily focuses on investigating what happens when people are at the forefront of their own development, primarily through evaluation of participatory research and interventions in which she uses theory-based, participatory and realist evaluation approaches in complex evaluations. She has done participatory action research and evaluation with Aboriginal communities in Australia, young people in worst forms of child labour in Nepal and Bangladesh and refugee children in the Netherlands. She is a core member of the Centre for Development Impact and co-facilitates short courses on Contribution Analysis and Participatory Monitoring and Evaluation.



Non-members: £560 + VAT
Members: £470 + VAT
Student members: £380 + VAT