Workshop 1. Theory-based Evaluation in Practice


Trainer: Jozef Leonardus (Jos) Vaessen
Level: Beginning/intermediate
Language: English

Interventions are theories and evaluation is the test. This well-known reference is indicative of an influential school of thought and practice in evaluation, often called theory-driven or theory-based evaluation. While having been around for more than four decades, over the last two decades theory-based evaluation has received new impetus and has become part and parcel of the toolkit of program evaluators across the globe. The ability to reconstruct program theories (sometimes referred to as theories of change) of policy interventions and to use these theories for guiding data collection and analysis lies at the core of rigorous evaluation practice.

The workshop will address the following main themes:

  • What is theory-based evaluation and why is it important?
  • What are useful principles for reconstructing a program theory?
  • How can we apply theory-based evaluation in practice?

The workshop will combine group exercises and presentations on the basis of an empirical case.

Learning outcome:

After this workshop, participants have developed an initial sound understanding of the role of program theory in evaluation and how to apply theory-based evaluation in practice. More specifically, participants will have a greater understanding of:

  • Different purposes and uses of program theory in evaluation
  • Principles for reconstructing a program theory
  • Applications of theory-based evaluation in practice