Using logic chain and theory of change tools to evaluate widening participation: Learning from the What works? Student Retention & Success programme

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There has been national and institutional commitment to widening participation (WP) for over 20 years in England, and during this time considerable investment has been made in WP. The field of WP is, however, still characterised by a lack of evidence of impact, and institutions are under pressure to provide better evidence moving forward. Practitioners working across the student lifecycle find evaluation challenging. This paper focuses on the approach used to evaluate a programme of work intended to improve the success of non-traditional students in higher education (HE), drawing on logic chains and a theory of change model (programme theory evaluation tools). It considers the benefits and limitations of this approach and discusses how it was applied in practice. It provides examples of indicators and evidence and considers ways in which the model can be improved and applied to other contexts.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)67-82
Number of pages16
JournalWidening Participation and Lifelong Learning
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2020


  • Programme theory evaluation
  • logic chain
  • theory of change
  • access to higher education
  • Student retention and success
  • student continuation
  • student progression
  • impacr evaluation

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