CP TIG Week: Rachel Becker-Klein on Using Most Significant Change: A Participatory Evaluation Strategy That Empowers Clients and Builds Their Evaluation Capacity

My name is Rachel Becker-Klein and I am an evaluator and a Community Psychologist with almost a decade of experience evaluating programs. Since 2005, I have worked withPEER Associates, an evaluation firm that provides customized, utilization-focused program evaluation and educational research services for organizations nationwide.

Recently I have been used an interview and analysis methodology called Most Significant Change (MSC). MSC is a strategy that involves collecting and systematically analyzing significant changes that occur in programs and the lives of program participants. The methodology has been found to be useful in monitoring programmatic changes, as well as evaluating the impact of programs.


Lessons Learned: Many clients are interested in taking an active role in their evaluations, but may not be sure how to do so. MSC is a fairly intuitive approach to collecting and analyzing data that clients and participants can be trained to use. Having project staff interview their own constituents can help to create a high level of comfort for interviewees, allowing them to share more openly. Staff-conducted interviews also provides them with a sense of empowerment in collecting data. The MSC approach also includes a participatory approach to analyzing the data. In this way, the methodology can be a capacity building process in and of itself, supporting project staff to learn new and innovative monitoring and evaluation techniques that can be integrated into their own work once the external evaluators leave.

Cool Trick: In 2012, Oxfam Canada contracted with PEER Associates to conduct a case study of their partner organization in the Engendering Change (EC) program in Zimbabwe – Matabeleland AIDS Council (MAC). The EC program funds capacity-building of Oxfam Canada’s partner organizations. This program is built around a theory of change that suggests partners become more effective change agents for women’s rights when their organizational structures, policies, procedures, and programming are also more democratic and gender just.

The evaluation employed a case study approach, using MSC methodology to collect stories from MAC staff and their constituents. In this case study, PEER Associates trained MAC staff to conduct the MSC interviews, while the external evaluators documented the interviews with video and/or audio and facilitated discussions on the themes that emerged from those interviews.

Rad Resources:

The American Evaluation Association is celebrating CP TIG Week with our colleagues in the Community Psychology Topical Interest Group. The contributions all week come from CP TIG members. Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to aea365@eval.org. aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.