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Durham University

School of Education

Research Projects

Publication details

Brown, C (2020). Using theories of action approach to measure impact in an intelligent way: A case study from Ontario Canada. Journal of Educational Change 21(1): 135-156.

Author(s) from Durham


There is now an impetus for schools to be more effective for more students, meaning that being able to measure impact effectively is vital. Simultaneously, if innovations are found to be impactful, it is reasonable they should be scaled-up to enable other schools to benefit. It is appropriate, therefore, that in networked and self-improving school systems, we should be attempting to link together approaches for measuring the impact of innovations with the means to enable their wider use. The aim of this paper is to aid this process by presenting an intelligent framework designed to support both the assessment of impact and the roll-out of effective pedagogic innovations. Specifically, the Dialogic Model of Impact (DMI) was designed with the purpose of evaluating the success of Renfrew County Catholic District School Board’s ‘Through their Eyes’ approach to teaching and learning. Also, to identify the potential value of ‘Through their Eyes’ for other Ontario school boards. Presented are both the genesis of the model and detail on its initial application, which draws on interview data from 10 district leaders and principals, and focus groups of 20 teachers. The paper illustrates how DMI represents an intelligent approach to assessing performance which simultaneously uses this assessment as a means to improve future performance. The data collected via DMI also, however, provides innovators with the information required to scale-up new approaches in new contexts. The paper concludes by illustrating how DMI has general applicability and encourages its more general take-up by school and system leaders.

School of Education