The OAD believes that in order for astronomy-for-development activities to be effective, a scientific approach is needed. Evaluation is essential for identifying which projects work best, for whom and under what conditions. Evidence-informed project design and selection ensures that projects build on past lessons, thereby reducing the risk of negative unintended consequences and increasing the probabilities of positive cost-effective impacts.
The OAD Impact Cycle aims to enhance the OAD’s project design, selection and delivery systems to support such continual improvement and potential expansion. By determining what works and, importantly, what doesn’t work, the OAD can develop a library of evidence on best practice and ensure a positive feedback loop for projects.
At the Project Ideas stage the OAD would provide guidelines on previous experience and existing research to allow proposers to focus their ideas and build on what has been done. This is followed by Optimisation, in which selected projects are optimised by making their theoretical assumptions and target outcomes explicit and incorporating best practice and evaluation design in their implementation plan.
Where possible, the Evaluation stage applies experimental (i.e. scientific) research designs to obtain valid and publishable measures of impacts, while keeping the implementation as unbureaucratic as possible for the project leaders. The Resources are a continuously updated library of best practices, that will capture what we learn in previous steps. The evidence will then feed back into the Project Ideas stage to create a positive feedback loop.
The Impact Cycle will feed into a global Knowledge Base both through academic publications on evaluated projects and by providing data to serve the STEM education, outreach, evaluation and development communities. Contributions to the global evidence base on science for development, education, outreach and human capital development provide a platform for ensuring that innovative, high-impact projects inform practice on a larger scale. The cycle generates the high quality evidence needed by policymakers and donors designing Large-scale education and human capital development interventions.
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Many of the ideas listed above have been expanded in the links below: