Ellen Taylor-Powell, UWEX Evaluation Specialist Emeritus, presented via webinar from Rome to the WECT (say west) cohorts today.  She talked about program planning and logic modeling.  The logic model format that Ellen developed was picked up by USDA, now NIFA, and disseminated across Extension.  That dissemination had an amazing effect on Extension, so much so that most Extension faculty know the format and can use it for their programs.


Ellen went further today than those resources located through hyperlinks on the UWEX website.  She cited the work by Sue Funnell and Patricia J. Rogers, Purposeful program theory: Effective use of theories of change and logic models  . It was published in March, 2011.  Here is what the publisher (Jossey-Bass, an imprint of Wiley) says:

Between good intentions and great results lies a program theory—not just a list of tasks but a vision of what needs to happen, and how. Now widely used in government and not-for-profit organizations, program theory provides a coherent picture of how change occurs and how to improve performance. Purposeful Program Theory shows how to develop, represent, and use program theory thoughtfully and strategically to suit your particular situation, drawing on the fifty-year history of program theory and the authors’ experiences over more than twenty-five years.

Two reviewers who I have mentioned before, Michael Quinn Patton and E. Jane Davidson, say the following:

“From needs assessment to intervention design, from implementation to outcomes evaluation, from policy formulation to policy execution and evaluation, program theory is paramount. But until now no book has examined these multiple uses of program theory in a comprehensive, understandable, and integrated way. This promises to be a breakthrough book, valuable to practitioners, program designers, evaluators, policy analysts, funders, and scholars who care about understanding why an intervention works or doesn’t work.” —Michael Quinn Patton, author, Utilization-Focused Evaluation

“Finally, the definitive guide to evaluation using program theory! Far from the narrow ‘one true way’ approaches to program theory, this book provides numerous practical options for applying program theory to fulfill different purposes and constraints, and guides the reader through the sound critical thinking required to select from among the options. The tour de force of the history and use of program theory is a truly global view, with examples from around the world and across the full range of content domains. A must-have for any serious evaluator.” —E. Jane Davidson, PhD, Real Evaluation Ltd.

Jane is the author of the book, Evaluation Methodology Basics: The nuts and bolts of sound evaluation, published by Sage..  This book “…provides a step-by-step guide for doing a real evaluation.  It focuses on the main kinds of “big picture” questions that evaluators usually need to answer, and how the nature of such questions is linked to evaluation methodology choices.”  And although Ellen didn’t specfically mention this book, it is a worthwhile resource for nascent evaluators.

Two other resources that were mentioned today were Jonny Morell’s book, Evaluation in the face of uncertainty:  Anticipating surprise and responding to the inevitable. This volume was published by Guilford Press..  Ellen also mentioned John Mayne and his work in contribution analysis.  A quick web search provided this reference:  Mayne, J. (2008). Contribution analysis: An approach to exploring cause and effect. ILAC Brief No. 16. Rome, Italy: Institutional Learning and Change (ILAC) Initiative.  I’ll talk more about contribution analysis next week in TIMELY TOPICS.


If those of you who listened to Ellen remember other sources that she mentioned, let me know and I’ll put them here next week.


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