Digital Principles Monitoring, Evaluation, & Learning Part 4: Digital Principles-Focused Evaluation
This is the final installment of a 3-part series on the Digital Principles’ new suite of monitoring and evaluation resources.
In 2021, DIAL introduced the Organizational Self-Assessment that focuses on measuring generic Digital Principles engagement through activities associated with promotion, adoption, and institutionalization. Earlier this week, DIAL introduced the Indicator Library, a collection of process indicators for activities and outputs associated with measuring adherence to specific Digital Principles.
Today, in our final installment of our 3-part blog series, we are introducing the last tool in our new suite of monitoring and evaluation resources—Digital Principles-Focused Evaluation (DP-FE)—a prescriptive model of evaluation adapted from Principles-Focused Evaluation (P-FE) developed by Michael Quinn Patton.
Digital Principles-Focused Evaluation centers the Principles themselves as the evaluation’s focus and examines the following questions:
1. Are the Principles clear, meaningful, and actionable?
2. Are the Principles actually being followed?
3. Are the Principles leading to desired results?
Just as theory-based evaluation assesses the merit of a theory of change by evaluating that theory embodied in a program, P-FE evaluates the merit of principles by evaluating principle-driven initiatives. P-FE recognizes that many organizations and initiatives are reorienting their work to be guided by principles, instead of rigid rules or policy, for navigating complex real-world challenges. P-FE therefore provides feedback on how and how well that navigation process is working.
Furthermore, just as principles, like the Digital Principles, must be interpreted and applied according to the unique circumstance of organizations and the contexts they work in, the application of P-FE and DP-FE are themselves guided by the following principles:
|Matching||Conduct Principles-Focused Evaluations on principles-driven initiatives with principles-committed people. Principles are the focus of the evaluation.|
|Distinctions Matter||Distinguish types of principles (natural, moral effectiveness) and distinguish principles from values, beliefs, lessons, rules and proverbs.|
|Quality||Ensure that principles adhere to the GUIDE criteria.|
|Evaluation Rigor||Inquire into and evaluate effectiveness of principles on if they were followed and what difference they made.|
|Utilization Focus||Focus on intended use by intended users of the principles from beginning to end.|
|Beyond Rhetoric||Support using comprehensively; use them or lose them; don’t let them become a list; apply them across functions like staff development, strategic planning, and MEL work.|
|Interconnections||Interconnect principles. The eight concepts of P-FE are an interdependent interconnected whole (not a pick-and-choose list).|
|Learning||Reflect on the strengths and weaknesses of the P-FE process and results to learn and improve; engage in the principles-focused reflective practice.|
Again, at the heart of Digital Principles-Focused Evaluation, are three criteria and evaluation questions:
1. Meaningfulness: To what extent and in what ways are the Principles for Digital Development meaningful to our organization or initiative?
2. Adherence: If meaningful, to what extent and in what ways are the Principles for Digital Development adhered to in practice at our organization or initiative?
3. Results: If adhered to, to what extent and in what ways are the Principles for Digital Development leading to desired results?
Where the Organizational Self-Assessment is associated with principle meaningfulness and adherence generally, and the Indicator Library is associated with principle adherence specifically, DP-FE provides a more holistic view of the merit of the Digital Principles and principle-driven initiatives by investigating all three criteria.
In concert these criteria and evaluation questions provide endorsers of the Digital Principles insights to strengthen their digital development initiatives.
A final component of DP-FE is that it should be designed and conducted to promote intended use for intended users, thus adhering to the Design with the User principle. Accordingly, organizations can use DP-FE in two ways: first, through findings use (delivering evaluation findings and possibly recommendations to decision-makers at the organization) and second, through process use (how being involved in an evaluation affects the individuals and organizations involved).
With this in mind, and applied thoughtfully, Digital Principles-Focused Evaluation can provide insights on how and how well the Digital Principles aid organizations and initiatives in navigating the complexity of the digital development ecosystem.
Access the new guidance document for greater detail on the methodology, example rubrics, survey protocols, and complementary resources; and most importantly, how to implement a Digital Principles-focused evaluation at your organization!
DIAL wants to see how the Digital Principles are coming to life and are seeking partners to pilot Digital Principles-Focused Evaluation. If interested, please contact Claudine Lim at firstname.lastname@example.org.