In Module 2, we have been tasked with constructing a program theory- theory of action and theory of change-and rationalizing it. It has been a bit of daunting task as there seem to be so many theories and templates, but I remain passionate about my evaluation project. To clarify previous posts, my program evaluation is of a placement/internship program that is already in existence. It is part of a college-level program, that hosts students in class for four months and then the students are required to complete a four-month unpaid placement.
To my understanding, a program theory should outline the basics of the evaluation; the “if and when” of the program implementation. I followed the template of Donaldson and Lipsey because I found that my program evaluation fell into the category of a program theory-driven evaluation science. While it is highly constructed from a program theory model, there is also an element of social science theory that could be drawn upon. A lot of research exists on internships and the impact they can have. I would explore whether there are reliable resources to reference on optimal program length, and then use direct program experience and resources to explore whether the current students are getting jobs.
I believe that my program theory follows the plausibility and sensibility process outlined by Donaldson and Lipsey:
- Organizational plan – How?
- Service utilization plan – Students receiving the intentions.
- Impact theory – Is it bringing about intended benefits.
I liked this template because it is simplistic and is easy to outline the resources, activities, outputs, short – and long-term outcomes, and impact. While the general idea of my evaluation is to determine if the program is following through on its claims of students getting jobs from placement, I also added in some evaluation elements of whether the students are obtaining jobs in their field because of the experience of placement. I believe this would give administrators of the program a better idea on how to frame marketing materials to also not give students false expectations.
Based on these models, our class notes, readings, and recommendations from Dr. Lam, I have revisited my evaluation questions posted on September 22nd:
- What percentage of students have obtained jobs directly from the placement organization?
- To what extent is students’ success in obtaining a job attributed to the placement program?
- Is there a difference between students that have obtained a job from placement versus students who have not?
- In what ways are activities working for the program to run efficiently?
- How are students satisfied or dissatisfied with program execution?
- To what extent are students meeting the objectives of the internship program?
- What are the retention rates of the program?
- Has the program seen an increase in enrollment and applications?
I feel like I still have so many questions to ask and to be answered, but I thought I’d pause for now and turn to my classmates/peers/experts for feedback.
Thank you for reading!