Essentials of Theory-Based Evaluation


After this workshop, participants have developed an initial sound understanding of the role of program theory in evaluation and how to apply theory-based evaluation in practice. More specifically, participants will have a greater understanding of:

- Different purposes and uses of program theory in evaluation,

- Principles for reconstructing a program theory,

- Applications of theory-based eval.


Interventions are theories and evaluation is the test. This well-known reference is indicative of an influential school of thought and practice in evaluation, often called theory-driven or theory-based evaluation. Policy interventions (e.g. programs and projects) rely on underlying theories regarding how they are intended to work and contribute to processes of change. These theories (usually called program theories, theories of change, or intervention theories) are often made explicit in documents, but sometimes only exist in the minds of stakeholders. Program theories (whether explicit or tacit) guide the design and implementation of policy interventions and also constitute an important basis for evaluation. This workshop mainly focuses on the latter and provides an overview of the essentials of theory-based evaluation.


The workshop covers the following topics:


What do we mean by program theory

Why is program theory important (in evaluation)

What are the sources of program theory

How can we develop program theory

How do we use program theory as a framework for evaluation

What are the main challenges for using program theory in evaluation

  • Theorie und Geschichte der Evaluation / Grundkenntnisse
  • Praxis der Evaluation
Durchführende Person/en bzw. Institution/en (inkl. kurzer Vorstellung)

Jos Vaessen (PhD, Maastricht University) is Methods Adviser at the Independent Evaluation Group of the World Bank Group. Since 1998 he has been involved in evaluation research activities, first as an academic and consultant to bilateral and multilateral development organizations and from 2011 to 2015 as an evaluation manager at UNESCO. His ongoing involvement in some evaluation-related research and teaching activities as honorary lecturer at Maastricht University contributes to the necessary cross-fertilization evaluation research and practice. Jos has been author of several internationally peer-reviewed publications, including three books. Jos is a member of the Evaluation Advisory Panel at UNICEF and regularly serves on reference groups of evaluations for different institutions.

Umfang (Dauer)

1 week interactive online workshop


Evaluators (commissioners, policy makers).


The workshop is intended to provide essential knowledge to professionals who are at the start of or in the early phases of their career in evaluation. More experienced evaluators may find the empirical example

Sonstige Angaben

The workshop provides an introduction to theory-based evaluation.

registration: 6.4. - 10.10.2021 on www.ipdet.org


Knowledge of the practice of evaluation is highly desirable.

The workshop provides a useful introduction to the advanced workshop on Theory-based causal analysis conducted by Dr. Estelle Raimondo.