Developmental evaluation is an evaluation approach used when it isn’t clear at the start of a project which intervention is the most appropriate and what aspects of the context are most important to address.

It provides a framework for selecting relevant evaluation tools and the mix of methods best suited to the evaluation questions being asked to promote iterative learning.

Introductions and Further Reading

Book: Developmental Evaluation: Applying Complexity Concepts to Enhance Innovation and Use (375 pages)

Michael Quinn Patton

This book, written by the founder of the approach, outlines the rationale and guiding principles of development evaluation, including an account of how best to understand complex social change and how concepts from complexity theory can be useful. It provides a range of case examples of its application, and outlines a process for selecting the mix of methods tailored to the particular characteristics of the project or process being evaluated.

Guide: A Practitioners Guide to Developmental Evaluation

An introduction to developmental evaluation and its basic principles and process including sections on where and how to apply DE and some key tools and challenges in applying the method.

Website: Developmental Evaluation – Better evaluation introduction

A selection of introductory pages and resources on the Better Evaluation Website.

Video: Developmental Evaluation as an alternative to formative or summative evaluation (3 minutes)

A short video in which Michael Quinn Patton outlines the distinction between developmental evaluation and formative and summative evaluation. 

More resources on Developmental Evaluation can be found in the Mesh Developmental Evaluation resources category.To see how this resource fits in with the rest of Mesh's evaluation resources, and to learn how to navigate them, visit the Mesh evaluation page

This resource was developed by Robin Vincent as part of supporting the Wellcome Trust linked community of practice on evaluation of public and community engagement and was originally hosted on the eMOPs website.

Creative Commons License

This work, unless stated otherwise, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License


Please Sign in (or Register) to view further.