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Schedule and Literature Copy

theresa December 29, 2020

Let us give you some brief information here before you move on to the course.


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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. Policy interventions (e.g. programs and projects) rely on underlying theories regarding how they are intended to work and contribute to processes of change. These theories (usually called program theories, theories of change, or intervention theories) are often made explicit in documents, but sometimes only exist in the minds of stakeholders. Program theories (whether explicit or tacit) guide the design and implementation of policy interventions and also constitute an important basis for evaluation. This workshop mainly focuses on the latter and provides an overview of the essentials of theory-based evaluation. The workshop will cover the following topics:

  • What do we mean by program theory
  • Why is program theory important (in evaluation)
  • What are the sources of program theory
  • How can we develop program theory
  • How do we use program theory as a framework for evaluation
  • What are the main challenges for using program theory in evaluation

Examples from World Bank evaluations as well as other organizations in the field of international development will be used throughout the workshop to illustrate the content. The workshop will use a combination of short lectures, group exercises, and group and plenary discussions


After this course, 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


Bamberger, M., J. Vaessen and E. Raimondo (eds.) (2015) Dealing with complexity in development evaluation: a practical approach. Thousand Oaks, SAGE.

Chen, H.T. (1990) Theory-driven Evaluations. Thousand Oaks, SAGE.

Funnell, S.C. and P.J. Rogers (2011). Purposeful program theory: effective use of theories of change and logic models. San Francisco, Jossey Bass.

Leeuw, F.L. (2003) Reconstructing program theories: methods available and problems to be solved. American Journal of Evaluation, 24(1), 5.20.

Rogers, P.J., A. Petrosino, T.A. Huebner and T.A. Hacsi (2000) Program theory evaluation: practice, promise, and problems. New Directions for Evaluation, 87, 5-13.