Program Theory Building: A Strategy for Deriving Cumulative Evaluation Knowledge

  • Turnbull B
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In a recent issue of the American Journal of Evaluation, Mark (2001) challenges evaluators to “derive more cumulative knowledge from and about evaluation” (p. 471). The aim of the current study was to address this challenge by illustrating a three-phase approach for program theory building and testing. This approach is proposed as a compliment to the traditional theory-driven outcomes evaluation as a means of deriving and cumulating evaluation knowledge. Hence, this study was intended as an example of how to cumulate knowledge about evaluation practice itself. It was also intended to illustrate how knowledge can be derived from evaluation by replicating models of program theory across multiple contexts. The study concludes with a discussion of methodological issues related to developing and testing models of program theory.

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  • Barbara Turnbull

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