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Our monthly seminar series provides an opportunity for you to meet with other AES members in Victoria, to share and learn from the experiences of other evaluators.

AES Evaluator’s Professional Domain of Competence:
2. Evaluation Theory; 4. Research Methods and Systematic Enquiry; 7. Evaluation Activities

Date and time: 19 April 2017, 5:30 to 7:00pm
Seminar topic: Chains of logic: Overcoming limitations of program theory and its use in evaluation
Presenter: Dr Ian Patrick, Ian Patrick and Associates
Venue: VicHealth Seminar Room, 15‐31 Pelham Street, Carlton South

Register online by: 17 April 2017

The use of program theory has become commonplace in evaluation practice, but not without accompanying critique. This seminar explores means to make program theory a more useful approach. The widespread adoption of forms of program theory such as program logic in evaluation is evident in how it is employed as a means to check understandings of the relationship between program action and expected results, and as a reference point to assess subsequent program performance. Despite this perceived utility, critique of program theory mounts. It is viewed by some as representing a narrow conceptualisation of change, as a linear sequence of cause and effect, while reality is more complex. Others point to the systemic nature of programs, with many influences on change often ignored in program theory. Further critique relates to the difficulty of arriving at a unified program theory when stakeholders have varied perceptions and influences on change. Few efforts have been made to refine program theory in response to such critique.

This seminar explores four possible enhancements of the use of program theory by (a) use of a different means to identify, investigate and test assumptions (and related evaluation questions) (b) use of broader and more holistic categories of action in program logic, such as strategies (c) identifying and representing systemic factors outside the immediate program but influential on change, and linking these to program logic (d) use of participatory methods to capture different stakeholder perspectives on change. The seminar will explore the relative merits of these enhancements, opportunities to combine different elements, and their potential contribution to the utility of the program theory approach.

Dr Ian Patrick is an independent consultant and Director of Ian Patrick & Associates. His career as an evaluator extends over 20 years and covers both Australia and the Asia Pacific region. He has broad experience across different social sectors such as health, education, law and justice, community development, and human rights and Indigenous issues. Ian has worked with a range of organisations and programs in developing monitoring and evaluation systems, and conducted evaluation-related training programs. He is joint author of Developing Monitoring and Evaluation Frameworks (SAGE, 2016). Ian is an Honorary Senior Fellow, Development Studies Program, University of Melbourne.