Theory of change

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A theory of change describes the types of intervention that bring about the outcomes depicted in a change map leading from one institutional state to another via a series of "interventions". The theory should also take account of the assumptions that stakeholders use to explain the change process represented by the change framework.

The concept is associated recently with the work at the ActKnowledge research organisation and the Aspen Institute. This has an active web site.

However, the concept appears originally to date from the work of Kurt Lewin who is better known in e-learning circles for his (related) work on force field analysis.

Approaches in the theory of change genre have been used for some years in the UK in social science research and to an increasing extent in e-learning evaluation - see for example the Glenaffric abstract for ALT-C 2007. It has also begun to be used in UK universities at the planning level.