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Title:Identifying program theory: A step toward evaluating categorical state-funded educational programs
Author(s):Grayson, Thomas E.
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):DeStefano, Lizanne
Department / Program:Education
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Education, Administration
Education, General
Education, Educational Psychology
Abstract:Purposes of this study were to: (a) identify program theory, (b) develop a theory-based framework, and (c) inquire into the feasibility of a theory-based evaluation as an alternative to the traditional method-based approaches for evaluating categorical state-funded programs. The context for this study was Illinois' Truants' Alternative and Optional Education Program (TAOEP).
This study relied on concept mapping technology to identify the program theory underlying the Illinois State Board of Education's TAOEP, i.e., to systematically discover, examine, and understand the TAOEP's theoretical components and their relationships. Once theory for the TAOEP was identified, it was used to formulate a framework for a (proposed) theory-based evaluation of the program. The practicability and utility of this theory-based framework were examined by a mini-focus group, comprised of five state-level stakeholders, following a formal presentation made by the researcher on the theoretical framework of Illinois' TAOEP.
This research suggested that if current evaluation practices at the state level were expanded to include the identification of program theory as the front end of evaluation, then: (a) the potential for reaching more audiences with richer and more useful evaluation findings would be increased; (b) improving existing programs and implementing new programs would become viable; and, (c) the longevity of usefulness of evaluation results would move from being immediate and short-lived to being continuous and long-term as well as immediate.
Finally, this study demonstrated that a theory-based approach to evaluating Illinois' TAOEP has great potential for a variety of uses. The primary utility for current evaluation practices was put simply by focus group members: meeting reporting requirements (i.e., reporting impact information). The identification of program theory as the first step in evaluation can lead to evaluation findings which can be used for: (a) needs assessment, (b) program planning, (c) program development, (d) program improvement, (e) program implementation, (f) informing and enlightening a variety of audiences, (g) enhancing practitioner involvement, (h) targeting resources, and (i) providing technical assistance.
Issue Date:1992
Rights Information:Copyright 1992 Grayson, Thomas E.
Date Available in IDEALS:2011-05-07
Identifier in Online Catalog:AAI9236474
OCLC Identifier:(UMI)AAI9236474

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