Susanne Giel

The Use of Program Theory in Evaluation in the Context of Schools


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Pedagogic staff in schools consistently faces new challenges. It has to make sure to find succeeding and effective solutions and answers. Classical educational research designs are often either inapplicable, or their results cannot simply be put into practice within the particular context. Theory-based evaluation tries to close the gap by choosing an impact-oriented and simultaneously practice-oriented approach. This article explains the main functions of program theories in evaluations. Unlike typical school evaluation, a theory-based approach puts the educational program, not the school as an organization in its center. The text illustrates the main features of program theories along the notional evaluation of educational efforts to integrate refugee children into the regular school system. Concluding, the author reflects the use of this approach for practitioners, for gaining knowledge about learning processes and educational processes, as well as for methodical decisions in the course of evaluations.

program evaluation, program theory, theory-based evaluation, innovations, effects, black box, testing program theories