top of page

Which Links in Which Theories
Shall We Evaluate?

Carol Hirschon Weiss


Foundational text

Theory-based evaluation (TBE) offers many advantages to the evaluator
who conducts the study and the program individuals who receive the
results. It helps to specify not only the what of program outcomes but also
the how and the why. Theory-based evaluation tests the links between
what programs assume their activities are accomplishing and what actually happens at each small step along the way. It also has clear limitations
(Weiss, 1997).
Other chapters in this issue explore the opportunities and challenges
that enter into the decision to use this approach to evaluating programs. I
want to enter the scene after all the actors have decided to take a theoryoriented approach and now have to put the approach into practice. What
theory do they use? Do they settle on one theory, or do they consider several
theories? In how much detail do they spin out the theories? If they have an
elaborated theory (or theories), which links in the theory do they study?
What criteria do they use in deciding which links are worth studying?

bottom of page