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Past event

Exploring theories of change in education: determining when, how and why x leads to y?


This event is now fully booked. To be placed on the waiting list, please email

Chair/convenor: Richard Thurston, Deputy Chief Research Officer, Welsh Government

Theory-based approaches to evaluation have become popular in the UK in recent years both in academic work and policy and practice settings.  Various versions exist – theories of change, logic models, realist evaluation, results-based accountability, benefits realisation. All involve some form of evaluative thinking. But their conduct and utilisation vary as do their antecedents – as part of planning processes for programmes, abstracted diagrams, practical exercises with stakeholders, discourse analysis, diagnostic assessments, complex expositions of programme theory and so on. Their use crosses-over between academic studies, government commissioned evaluations, non-governmental work, and across disciplines and policy areas.

This seminar will unpick their wider use, identify points of connection and digression between the approaches and provide a forum for considering how their application can be developed in research practice and policy utilisation.

The speakers who will be invited to open up some of these issues for debate include: Professor Gemma Moss (BERA President, Bristol University), Professor Nick Tilley (UCL) and Professor Chris Taylor (Welsh Institute of Social & Economic Research).

This will be followed by a practical workshop led by Dr Jamie Smith (Head of Public Services Research, Welsh Government) and Joanne Starkey (Head of Schools Research, Welsh Government). The workshop will invite participants to develop a theory of change in relation to a topical education reform of their choice!

Participants are asked to provide ideas of a topical education reform to be considered at the seminar in advance. Please email ideas to


BERA offer a limited amount of bursaries for BERA Student Members only.

  • Bursaries are available for BERA Student Members to the value of £50 towards travel, and complimentary registration for the event.

To apply for one of these bursaries, please email with a 200 word statement on why you want to attend this event. Bursaries are offered on a first come, first served basis. Once approved you will be sent details of how to register online. Travel expenses will be reimbursed after the event in accordance with our travel policies. You must not have previously received bursary funding from BERA in the current year.