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Low Cost Evaluation: A How To Guide


About this course

This course, presented by the Behavioral Insights Team, will guide users in developing, implementing, and analyzing their own Low Cost Evaluation.

What is "Low Cost Evaluation?"

  1. Using robust research to measure whether something works, with a full understanding of what actually caused the results we see.
  2. Evaluating small aspects of large issues so that we can learn and adapt policy incrementally and quickly.
  3. Using routinely collected data to measure outcomes, to keep costs down and ensure that the process becomes part of day-to-day policymaking.
  4. Testing innovations that can easily be scaled up if they prove to be successful.

What you'll learn in this course

  1. How to identify projects that make for a good evaluation.
  2. What Randomized Controlled Trials (RCTs) are and how they work.
  3. The steps involved in conducting your own Low Cost Evaluation.
  4. How to analyze the results of an evaluation.

The idea is for this guide to be a practical aid, not an academic text. It will equip you with the skills to begin working on simple evaluation questions immediately and also give you the resources and a roadmap to take on more demanding projects as you develop expertise and confidence.

About your instructors

Originally set up as a small group at the heart of the UK government, The Behavioral Insights Team (BIT) is now a global organization that applies insights from academic research in behavioral science to improve public services. The Behavioral Insights Team works across a wide range of government policy areas around the world, devising new ways of making public services work better for the people they serve, and testing the impact using empirical research methods. Typically, BIT tackles small components of large issues, building up the impact over time and driving social change incrementally but quickly.

Some examples of BIT’s work and findings in the past four years:

  1. Encouraged jobseekers to actively commit to undertaking job search activities increased their chance of finding a new job;
  2. Prompted people to join the Organ Donor Register using reciprocity messages (Example: ‘If you needed an organ, would you take one?’) adds 100,000 people to the register in one year;
  3. Informed people who failed to pay their tax that most other people had already paid increased payment rates by over 5 percentage points.
  4. Course Team

    Course Team Image #1

    Owain Service

    Owain Service is the Managing Director of the Behavioral Insights Team and Board Director. Owain was previously a Deputy Director of the Prime Minister’s Strategy Unit, where he led programs of work on public service reform, education, energy and developed the UK’s first National Security Risk Assessment as part of the Strategic Defence and Security Review. Owain holds degrees from Cambridge and the London School of Economics and has written widely on public policy strategy and behavioral insights, having co-authored most of the team’s papers (including ‘Test, Learn, Adapt’, ‘Behaviour Change and Energy Use’ and the EAST paper).

    Course Team Image #1

    Elspeth Kirkman

    Elspeth Kirkman is the Head of BIT North America, BIT’s New York office. BIT North America’s founding client is Bloomberg Philanthropies, as part of the new What Works Cities initiative. This program builds on existing innovation at the city level in the USA by helping mayors and local leaders use data and evidence to engage the public, make government more effective and improve people’s lives.

    Course Team Image #2

    Elizabeth Linos

    Elizabeth Linos is the Head of Research and Evaluation at BIT North America. Her research centers on how to improve government performance and service delivery, with a specific focus on recruiting, retaining and motivating public servants. Within BIT, she has led a series of projects on civil servant motivation and well-being, recruitment and retention, as well as broader organisational behaviour change with the police, teachers, social workers and other civil servants.

    Course Team Image #2

    Michael Kalin

    Michael is a Senior Advisor with BIT North America, where he focuses on capacity development for the “What Works Cities” initiative.