Theory of Change

Theory of change is the continuous process of reflection to explore change, how it happens, and the importance of changes in a particular environment, sector, and group of people. 

Best used for

Change/Impact planning, also Change/Impact Reflection

In the context of Digital Social Impact courses and learning activities

A theory of change is often developed during the planning stage but can also be useful for monitoring and evaluation. A good theory of change can help to: develop better Key Evaluation Questions, identify key indicators for monitoring, identify gaps in available data, prioritize additional data collection, and provide a structure for data analysis and reporting. 

Depending on the timing, a theory of change can be used to anticipate what will happen, and establish data collection processes to track changes going forward, or used to make sense of what has happened and the data that have already been collected.

A theory of change can provide a framework for a “performance story” – a coherent narrative about how the intervention makes particular contributions.  This can be useful for communicating about the intervention to potential partners, participants and policymakers, and for also providing a consistent point of reference for those involved in implementing and managing it.

Main Target Group

Educators/Digital Social Impact Course or Project Facilitators

Potential tools for digitising this activity

Can be done online via tools like Miro

Step by Step

1 There is no single way to create a Theory of Change. A simple way to complete a theory of change involves the following: First, focus on the Need/Assumptions – what is the problem we as educators are trying to address? What are the assumptions sitting behind the programme, project or initiative we are planning or have implemented?

2 Next you need to focus on Inputs – if you are at the Design stage, what resources are you/your organisation investing? If you are at the Reflection stage, what resources did you invest? Were more required than anticipated?

3 Outputs/Activities – what are we going to do with the resources or what did we do? 

4 Finally, you must consider the Outcomes – what difference we are hoping to make/have made in the short, medium and long term?