Emergent Learning: Taking Developmental Evaluation to a New Level (F4)


The complex world of social innovation has challenged evaluators to rethink traditional evaluation frameworks. The field of Developmental Evaluation has created a space for innovating new solutions to this problem. But the journey has just begun!

Emergent Learning is an exciting new discipline that comes from research in Systems Thinking and Complex Adaptive Systems. Fourth Quadrant Partners and Ontario Trillium Foundation are using it as a platform for taking Developmental Evaluation to a new level; for creating a real and practical link between evaluation and real-time learning. In this full-day workshop, participants will be introduced to the principles and tools of Emergent Learning. They will be given the opportunity to practice using them, explore how they are being employed in current Developmental Evaluation projects, and talk about how they could be used in their own evaluation projects.


Marilyn Darling, Jillaine Smith, Dan Wilson and Viola Dissanti

Marilyn Darling and colleagues have been developing the field of Emergent Learning (EL) since the early 1990’s. Jillaine Smith and Marilyn Darling are dedicated to bringing EL to the social sector. They have served as the Developmental Evaluators for Living Cities for over two years. Ontario Trillium Foundation has been using EL as a foundation for their evaluation work since 2009. Dan Wilson and Viola Dissanti are members of 4QP’s EL Community of Practice and have used EL in their DE work.

Workshop Level



Participants should have a basic understanding of Developmental Evaluation. Participants will learn specific emergent learning techniques to build their capacities to conduct effective developmental evaluation.

Date and time

Sunday, June 15, 2014
9:00 am to 4:30 pm

Alignment with CE Designation Competencies

  • Respects all stakeholders
  • Determines the purpose of the evaluation
  • Frames evaluation questions
  • Attends to issues of organizational and environmental change
  • Serves the information needs of intended users