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Evaluating outreach activities: overcoming challenges through a realist ‘small steps’ approach

Harrison, Neil; Waller, Richard

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Authors

Neil Harrison Neil.Harrison@uwe.ac.uk
Occasional Associate Lecturer - ACE EDU

Richard Waller Richard.Waller@uwe.ac.uk
Professor of Education and Social Justice



Abstract

© 2016 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group. Practitioners are being placed under increasing pressure to evaluate the success of their outreach activities, both by government and by their own universities. Based in a reductionist doctrine of ‘evidence-based practice’, there is a desire to demonstrate the effectiveness and value-for-money across activities that now account for around £175 million per year across England. This article examines some of the difficulties in evaluating the complex social world of outreach and suggests a ‘small steps’ approach to overcome some of these. This uses the idea of a transformative ‘theory of change’ as a framework for understanding the particular contribution made by discrete activities within a wider portfolio, providing a more reliable form of inference than attempts to ‘prove’ impact over longer timeframes.

Citation

Harrison, N., & Waller, R. (2017). Evaluating outreach activities: overcoming challenges through a realist ‘small steps’ approach. Perspectives: Policy and Practice in Higher Education, 21(2-3), 81-87. https://doi.org/10.1080/13603108.2016.1256353

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Oct 31, 2016
Online Publication Date Dec 5, 2016
Publication Date Jul 3, 2017
Deposit Date Dec 19, 2016
Publicly Available Date Jun 5, 2018
Journal Perspectives: Policy and Practice in Higher Education
Print ISSN 1360-3108
Electronic ISSN 1460-7018
Publisher Taylor & Francis (Routledge)
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 21
Issue 2-3
Pages 81-87
DOI https://doi.org/10.1080/13603108.2016.1256353
Keywords outreach, evaluation, social realism, epistemology
Public URL https://uwe-repository.worktribe.com/output/904984
Publisher URL http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/13603108.2016.1256353
Additional Information Additional Information : This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Perspectives: Policy and Practice in Higher Education on 05 December 2016, available online: http://www.tandfonline.com/10.1080/13603108.2016.1256353

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