Author: Dana H Taplin and Heléne Clark
Year: 2012
Full Citation: Taplin, H. D., & Clark, H. (2012). Theory of change basics, a primer on theory of change. New York: ActKnowledge
Associated Resource Tool(s):
Overview: This is a brief guideline for the organization ActKnowledge on developing a program or project Theory of Change. TOC is defined as “a rigorous yet participatory process whereby groups and stakeholders in a planning process articulate their long-term goals and identify the conditions they believe have to unfold for those goals to be met” The proposed components of TOC includes outcomes, interventions, indicators, rationales, assumptions, arranged graphically in causal framework and accompanied by a written narrative that explains the logic of the framework. The stages of developing TOC are
  1. Identifying long-term goals and the assumptions behind them;
  2. Backwards mapping from the long-term goal by working out the preconditions or requirements necessary to achieve that goal--and explaining why;
  3. Voicing assumptions about what exists in the system without which the theory won’t work, and articulating rationales for why outcomes are necessary preconditions to other outcomes;
  4. Weighing and choosing the most strategic interventions to bring about the desired change;
  5. Developing indicators to measure progress on the desired outcomes and assess the performance of initiative;
  6. Quality review that should answer three basic questions: Is the theory i) plausible, ii) “doable” (or feasible), and iii) testable?;
  7. Writing a narrative to explain the summary logic of initiative. The purpose of narrative is“to convey the major elements of the theory easily and quickly to others and to better understand how the elements of the theory work as a whole.”

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