Comparing and Contrasting a Program versus System Approach to Evaluation: The Example of a Cardiac Care System

This article examines the differences between approaching an evaluation problem from a program perspective and doing so from a systems perspective. Th e terms program, systems, systems thinking, and systems concepts are fi rst defi ned. Then, using an actual evaluation of a cardiac care system, it is shown how initial investments in a program theory approach were deemed inadequate to account for the influence of external factors on patient outcomes.
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Using System Evaluation Theory to Evaluate a Cardiac System of Care

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Contributing Factors to the Continued Blurring of Evaluation and Research: Strategies for Moving Forward

Despite many studies devoted to the diff erent purposes of evaluation and research, purpose-method incongruence persists. Experimental research designs continue to be inappropriately used to evaluate programs for which sufficient research evidence has accumulated. By using a case example the article highlights several contributing factors to purpose-method incongruence, including the control of the federal level evaluation agenda by researchers, confusion in terminology, and the credible evidence debate. Strategies for addressing these challenges are discussed.

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The Reciprocal Relationship Between Implementation Theory and Program Theory in Assisting Program Design and Decision-Making

The focus of this article is how Theory Driven Evaluation (TDE) and two of its central tenets—program theory and implementation theory—can be simultaneously used to inform and assist programmatic decision-making. The article argues there is a paucity of evaluation literature demonstrating how program theory can be beneficial to the design and interpretation of implementation theory. A case example is used to illustrate the importance of program theory in developing and interpreting implementation theory.

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Constructing and Verifying Program Theory Using Source Documentation

Making the program theory explicit is an essential first step in Theory Driven Evaluation (TDE). Once explicit, the program logic can be established making necessary links between the program theory, activities, and outcomes. Despite its importance evaluators often encounter situations where the program theory is not explicitly stated. Under such circumstances evaluators require alternatives to generate a program theory with limited time and resources.

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What an eight-year-old can teach us about logic modelling and mainstreaming

This article presents a short case narrative, the purpose of which is to illustrate that complex evaluation methodologies such as logic modelling can be simplified to the point where a child can be guided through the process quickly. However, the case narrative also serves to highlight the potential consequences to program development and evaluation activities when the process is oversimplified.

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