And Synthesising

Einstein didn’t just chance on relativity; he was familiar with it because others had worked on it.

You can usually innovate more effectively if you know what’s been tried.

Suppose you wanted to design a house that used very little energy, took few resources to build and maintain, and was affordable for most families.

You might have some original ideas about how this could be done, but you’d want to find out what ideas others had as well.

Once you’ve separated these parts out, you can put those that meet your needs together with what you’ve learned about the issue and your own ideas to build a program that speaks specifically to your situation.

As we’ve mentioned, the activities of information gathering and synthesis are needed both to create the original program and to develop an evaluation of it that will help you maintain and improve it.Once these are determined, they in turn determine your evaluation questions.You can’t construct an evaluation without knowing exactly what you’re trying to evaluate.This section looks at gathering all the information you can about your community issue and about attempts to address it, and putting that information together to design an evaluation to address your questions.Although this chapter is about evaluation, much of the material in these sections applies to planning the intervention (or program) and the evaluation: the two really can’t be separated.Synthesizing in this way requires identifying the functional elements of each idea or program that you’ve looked at that seems to hold lessons for your work.Functional elements are the core components of each program – the methods, framework, activities, techniques, and other aspects – that make up the specific program you’re examining.New ideas tend to come out of what others have attempted.Most artists start out imitating others before they develop their own styles.We’ll touch on where to find both here, and then go into more detail about them later in the section. Its English meaning is the same: the putting together of something out of two or more different sources.Synthetic fabrics, for instance, are called that because they’re constructed from a number of different chemical building blocks. Synthesis here refers to analyzing what you’ve learned from your information gathering, and constructing a coherent program or approach by taking ideas from a number of sources and putting them together to create something new that meets the needs of the community and population you’re working with.


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