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Theoretical Foundations

Page history last edited by Cristina Lamb Guevara 10 years, 7 months ago


A diagrammatic representation of the LSC model is shown in the figure below and can be understood as follows (the numbers refer to the figure):

1. A project brings together people and resources to carry out activities in a particular territory. A territory might be a pilot site, a rural community or an institutional context.
2. As the result of project activities people, represented in the model by participant i and participant j, start going through experiential learning cycles. For example, they decide to do something, like plant a new variety, have an experience, make sense of that experience, draw conclusions and then take further action, or not. In this process, participant i interacts with participant j who is going through his own experiential learning cycles. This interaction may change each others experience, sense making, conclusions and subsequent action. This repeating process is called ‘learning selection’ (Douthwaite et al, 2001) because in it people are generating novelties, making selection decisions and promulgating what works. In some ways this is analogous to the algorithm ‘natural selection’ that drives evolution in the natural world.
3. Project participants interact with other people as well, both inside and outside the territory. The extent to which the good ideas and innovations they are generating influence, and are influenced by, other actors depends upon how people are linked to each other, the nature of those linkages, local norms and power relationships.
4. Through these interactions, changes begin to emerge. As a result of experiential learning participants undergo changes in their knowledge, attitudes, skills and aspirations (KASA). If participants see benefits in the novelties they are experimenting with they will start adopting and adapting them and change their normal way of doing things (their Practice). They will also start recommending the changes to their peers (scaling out) and lobbying for a more supportive environment for the changes (scaling up). Positive word of mouth builds a momentum that drives further adoption that spreads beyond the territory. Further adoption leads to a series of outcomes resulting from use that eventually contribute to broader level social, economic and environmental impacts.

The LSC model that describes the causal processes by which project interventions in a given territory brings about change.






Further reading on LSC:




This type of theory-driven evaluation method differs from the traditional cause-effect, non-contextual methods of analysis. It suits complex social interventions by assuming that knowledge is a social and historical product, and recognising that there are many interwoven variables operative at different levels in society.


The procedure follow in the implementation of realist evaluation techniques in program evaluation is described in the following paper: 'Realistic Evaluation' (Pawson & Tilley, 2004). Once hypotheses have been generated and data has been collected, the outcomes of the program are explored, focusing on the groups that the program benefited and those whom it did not.


The effectiveness of a program does not depend on the outcomes alone (cause–effect), but rather there is a consideration of the theoretical mechanisms that are applied, and the sociohistorical context in which the programmes were implemented.




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Next page:     ii. Development of Methodology

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