What’s Going On? Developing Program Theory for Evaluation

Mary E. Arnold, Brooke D. Nott

Abstract


This paper outlines the process undertaken to develop a program logic model into a program theory that could be tested through a large scale evaluation. Logic models are widely promoted to establish program intention and outcomes, thus setting the stage for effective program evaluation. However, the causal links in program logic models are often assumptive in nature, and lack the specificity of conditions needed in order for the program to achieve its planned success. The authors share a process of observation and focus groups that allowed them to probe some of the links of the program logic model. The result presented is an “enhanced” logic model that reveals possible moderators of program success, which leads to the development of evaluation questions that will be used in a subsequent large-scale evaluation. The value of using an enhanced logic model for program evaluation leading to program policy changes and improvement is underscored.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5195/jyd.2010.222

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