Reconsidering context: Six underlying features of context to improve learning from evaluation

Creative Commons License

Coldwell M.

EVALUATION, vol.25, no.1, pp.99-117, 2019 (Journal Indexed in SSCI) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 25 Issue: 1
  • Publication Date: 2019
  • Doi Number: 10.1177/1356389018803234
  • Title of Journal : EVALUATION
  • Page Numbers: pp.99-117


This article considers the role of context in 'theory-based' evaluations, particularly those that use chain-type path or logic models. Reflecting on the use of causal models in the school professional development field, a set of underlying features of context is developed: the article proposes that context can be dynamic, agentic, relational, historically located, immanent and complex. These features are applied to a consideration of a commonly observed contextual factor: senior leader support for an intervention. The article argues that actively considering these underlying features can allow for a more sophisticated approach to context and concludes with a set of related interrogatory questions for evaluators, aiming to improve learning in future evaluation.