On launching the Program Design Topical Interest Group

I recently wrote about our motivation behind starting a Topical Interest Group (TIG) on Program Design on AEA365.

Our interest in organizing the PD-TIG grew out of a casual conversation. We (Karen Widmer, Terence Fitzgerald, and I) realized that we each held responsibilities for program design in our respective practice. We were inspired by the potential for infusing evaluative thinking and evidence into program development, and in doing so, evaluators might further contribute to clients’ goals of developing robust, impactful programs. However, even among ourselves, we had differing perspectives on what this might look like in practice. As a group, we were inspired by Gargani and Donaldson’s work on program design, Patton’s work on developmental evaluation, and more generally, writing on theory-driven evaluation. We said to ourselves: Wouldn’t it be great if we could get together with others who might share our passion and curiosity about program design?

It’s been over two years since that initial conversation, and it has taken a lot of work behind-the-scene to get the TIG up and running.

I am most excited by the idea that the TIG can engage the broader evaluation community on program design than individuals alone.

New this year to the annual AEA conference is the program design track to the program. A program schedule can be found on the PD-TIG web site.

In an upcoming post, I’ll profile an all-star panel session being organized during the PD-TIG Business Meeting. It features Dr. Huey Chen, Dr. John Gargani, Brenda Stead, and Dr. Cam Norman as panelists.

Until then, onwards!


By Chi Yan Lam

Dr. Chi Yan Lam is a Credentialed Evaluator and an Adjunct Assistant Professor of evaluation at the Faculty of Education and the Faculty of Health Sciences, Queen’s University; he is also a full-time evaluator practicing in public service. He specializes in evaluating large-scale, complex programs and incorporates multi-, mixed- and design methods in his evaluations to answer questions of importance to program administrators and policy makers working on educational and social programs. His articles on evaluation have been published in peer-reviewed journals, including the American Journal of Evaluation and the Canadian Journal of Program Evaluation. He has been a holder of the professional designation in evaluation since 2014.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s