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The Theory of Change Approach

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This slideshare describes the Theory of Change approach to program planning and design. The Theory of Change approach focuses on the assumptions that underlie social innovations and compels the kind of focus on evaluation that can help social programs improve. Unlike logic models, which are often nothing more than lists of a activities and outcomes, Theories of Change allow for a focus on the links between activities and outcomes. In our view this makes the Theory of Change approach superior.

Published in: Government & Nonprofit

The Theory of Change Approach

  1. 1. The Theory of Change Approach www.usablellc.net
  2. 2. So what exactly (or inexactly) is the Theory of Change Approach?
  3. 3. *It depends a little on who you ask.
  4. 4. A Theory of Change explains how a group of early and intermediate accomplishments sets the stage for producing long-range results. * The Community Builder’s Approach to Theory of Change.
  5. 5. A Theory of Change is about the central processes or drivers through which change comes about for individuals, groups or communities. It can derive from a formal research-based theory or from an untested, tacit understanding about how things work. * Funnell and Rogers. “Purposeful Program Theory”.
  6. 6. A Theory of Change has basic components: 3 Impacts Strategies Connections
  7. 7. are (obviously) what the program or initiative hopes to accomplish. Improved health Lower rates of re-arrest Increased school attendance Long-term employment Less bullying Impacts
  8. 8. are what the program does to bring about the desired impacts.Strategies
  9. 9. Most programs deploy multiple which can be grouped together.strategies
  10. 10. For example, a program to the reduce incidence and lessen the impacts of school bullying might include strategies to: Educate Students Train Teachers New School Policies Provide Counseling
  11. 11. There may be several interventionsfor each of these strategies. For example
  12. 12. Educate Students Train Teachers Provide Counseling New School Policies  In-class curriculum  Assembly programs  Publicity  In-service training  Coaching  For victims  For bullies  Rules and sanctions  Better monitoring of incidents  Improved responsiveness Interventions
  13. 13. In-class curriculumIn-service training Counseling for bullies Rules and sanctions Assembly programs Publicity Coaching teachers Counseling for victims Better monitoring of incidents Improved responsiveness Reduce incidents and lessen the impacts of school bullying But how do we relate this to this ?
  14. 14. By mapping logical pathways: between activities and outcomes. For example
  15. 15. In-class curriculum Teacher training Counseling for bullies Rules and sanctions Assembly programs Publicity Teacher coaching Counseling for victims Better monitoring of incidents Improved responsiveness Fewer incidents of bullying Lessened impacts on victims Improved school climate Students develop new attitudes Students feel empowered
  16. 16. That was a fairly simple model. It only had two main outcomes and it included only a few antecedent steps.
  17. 17. But it was a bit of a mess, wasn’t it?
  18. 18. And there may be more than one way of mapping out the paths.
  19. 19. And it’s easy to get lost.
  20. 20. So remind me again. Whyare we doing this?
  21. 21. Let’s reviewone of our definitions of “Theory of Change”.
  22. 22. A Theory of Change is about the central processes or drivers through which change comes about for individuals, groups or communities. It can be derived from a formal research-based theory or from an untested, tacit understanding about how things work. * Funnell and Rogers. “Purposeful Program Theory”.
  23. 23. A Theory of Change is about the central processes or drivers through which change comes about for individuals, groups or communities. It can be derived from a formal research-based theory or from an untested, tacit understanding about how things work.
  24. 24. This idea is absolutelycritical.
  25. 25. Like really.
  26. 26. Yet many Theories of Change neglect it.
  27. 27. Without a theory, there is no Theory of Change
  28. 28. What do youthink drives change?
  29. 29. Individual behavior change for example? * A common goal of many social programs.
  30. 30. How many theories can youlist for individual behavior change?
  31. 31. Incentives (carrots and sticks) Knowledge about the costs of old behaviors Knowledge about the benefits of new behaviors Coaching, modeling and/or mentoring Case management Psychotherapy Here’s a partial list: Person Focused
  32. 32. Economic conditions Institutional changes Community change New rules or regulations New norms of social behavior Improved access to resources Here’s what many people forget: Social Focused
  33. 33. Theories of change can be based on professional experience, academic research, sound hypotheses based on prior research or even common sense. Caution!
  34. 34. Creating a TOC model makes it possible to articulate and therefore scrutinize the theories that underlie claims about how and why a set of interventions leads to a set of outcomes. *
  35. 35. Unfortunately, many programs are based on Access to a resource Use of that resource Knowledge Behavior change Sending a message Communication Ownership Responsibility Faulty theories :
  36. 36. Or they fail to acknowledge alternate theories.
  37. 37. Let’s examine the theories behind one element of our bullying program.
  38. 38. * This line indicates an assumed theoretical link between counseling for bullies and less bullying behavior. BUT does this connection make sense? In-class curriculum Teacher training Counseling for bullies Rules and sanctions Assembly programs Publicity Teacher coaching Counseling for victims Better monitoring of incidents Improved responsiveness Fewer incidents of bullying Lessened impacts on victims Improved school climate Students develop new attitudes Students feel empowered
  39. 39. What: Evidence is there that bullies have psychological problems? Evidence is there that those problems can be reduced with counseling? Type of counseling is warranted? Are the possible risks of a counseling approach?
  40. 40. And what about dosage? How much counseling does theory suggest?
  41. 41. Answers to these questions need to bearticulated.
  42. 42. That’s the whole ideabehind Theory of Change
  43. 43. If the theory upon which your program is based makes sense, then you know you’re doing the right things. Knowlton and Phillips, The Logic Model Guidebook
  44. 44. Of course in order to be successful, you also have to do the things right. Knowlton and Phillips, The Logic Model Guidebook
  45. 45. Program evaluation can inform both of these.
  46. 46. But that’s another story.
  47. 47. If you found this useful, we’d love it if you would share it with your networks. www.usablellc.net

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