Author: Johnson et al.
Year: 2016
Full Citation: Johnson, V. A., Ronan, K. R., Johnston, D. M., & Peace, R. (2016). Improving the impact and implementation of disaster education: Programs for children through theory-based evaluation. Risk Analysis, 36(11), 2120-2135.
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Overview: A main weakness in the evaluation of disaster education programs for children is evaluators' propensity to judge program effectiveness based on changes in children's knowledge. Few studies have articulated an explicit program theory of how children's education would achieve desired outcomes and impacts related to disaster risk reduction in households and communities. This article describes the advantages of constructing program theory models for the purpose of evaluating disaster education programs for children. Following a review of some potential frameworks for program theory development, including the logic model, the program theory matrix, and the stage step model, the article provides working examples of these frameworks.
  • The first example is the development of a program theory matrix used in an evaluation of ShakeOut, an earthquake drill practiced in two Washington State school districts. The model illustrates a theory of action; specifically, the effectiveness of school earthquake drills in preventing injuries and deaths during disasters.
  • The second example is the development of a stage step model used for a process evaluation of What's the Plan Stan?, a voluntary teaching resource distributed to all New Zealand primary schools for curricular integration of disaster education. The model illustrates a theory of use; specifically, expanding the reach of disaster education for children through increased promotion of the resource.
The process of developing the program theory models for the purpose of evaluation planning is discussed, as well as the advantages and shortcomings of the theory-based approaches.

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