If you’re planning or overseeing a program
The Design phase means strengthening existing programs, selecting and evidence-informed approach or designing an innovative service appropriate to your context.
A critical step in Design is developing a Theory of Change (TOC) that draws on relevant research, practice expertise and client and community perspectives to illustrate how proposed strategies will achieve intended outcomes.
This could involve exploring Evidence-Based Programs, identifying and embedding evidence-informed practices into existing services, or developing a new ‘logic informed’ approach.
Your TOC should communicate how a program or service works; the causal links between strategies and outcomes and the underpinning evidence or assumptions.
Need help with developing a Theory of Change? Apply for OPEN IDEAS project support.
Exploring evidence-informed practices and programs
Look for reliable and up to date information and carefully consider your implementation context. Some key sites are:
- YSAS Toolbox
- What Works for Kids
- Early Intervention Foundation
- Education Endowment Foundation Teaching and Learning Toolkit
Planning for implementation and monitoring
Before you put your design into action, it’s important to think about and assess a range of implementation considerations. This includes:
- Organisational factors – staff, training and/or mentoring required to put the program into practice
- Program characteristics – target population, adaptations, costs, tools and resources; and
- Implementation elements – the approach and resources required
- Monitoring processes – ethics, data collection, analysis and use for knowledge building and continuous improvement.
An Implementation Consideration Checklist has been developed to help inform decision-making processes before you begin the process of implementation.
Some helpful steps in the Design phase can include:
- Explore suitable practices and programs with colleagues, clients and communities
- Search for evidence-informed practices and programs that are aligned with the identified outcomes
- Develop a theory of change in partnership with key stakeholders
Try these techniques to help as you ‘Design’:
- Review high-quality research and existing models and strategies aligned with identified outcomes
- Consider how your design will be implemented: what will the program look like in practice?
- Review existing program data and client feedback
- Facilitate a Theory of Change workshop with key stakeholders
- Review and revise the Theory of Change through consultation with key stakeholders and the data and evidence you have assembled.
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