Assessing change : investigating evaluation practices in applied theatre

Van Schalkwyk, Mareth (2019-04)

Thesis (PhD)--Stellenbosch University, 2019.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: This study investigates the problematic nature of assessing and evaluating change brought about by applied theatre programmes. Many applied theatre programmes, projects and practitioners lay claim to successful behaviour change and effective social transformation as programme, project or performance outcomes. These claims are subject to scepticism as often such proclamations are made without rigorous and valid assessment and evaluation methodologies and practices. Practitioners frequently lament the lack of appropriate measurement tools, not only to assess the effectiveness of programmes, but also to improve programmes and report to funders. The study focused on three research questions, namely: a) Why the need for assessment and what constitutes change; b) Why are current assessment methods successful or unsuccessful; c) What is needed from a measurement tool? A literature study and an empirical study have been conducted in order to answer the three set questions. The literature study firstly examines why the need for assessment and evaluation exists. Secondly, it investigates change; how it can be defined and how it works. The assessment and evaluation practises of various social science fields are discussed and comparisons drawn to applied theatre in order to investigate whether these theories, methodologies and techniques can be used in the applied theatre field. Lastly, assessment and evaluation methodologies and techniques within the applied theatre field are explored and the effectiveness of each method is discussed as a conclusion to the literature study. The empirical study takes the form of an online survey and interviews and the questions set in the survey directly correlate with the three research questions. The results of the empirical study support the findings of the literary study. Practitioners mostly agree that programmes should be evaluated and assessed, but the factors of a lack of knowledge and skills with regards to evaluation practices, the complex nature of applied theatre programmes, the challenge of measuring human behaviour and the difficulty of attributing change to one influence combine to create the feeling of overwhelming helplessness amongst practitioners. Theories on change have been extensively researched, but most applied theatre practitioners are not familiar various change theories. This oversight becomes more troublesome when it is considered that most evaluation and assessment methodologies are based on a specific change theory. In light of what change and sustained change imply, a shift needs to be made away from instigating change to encouraging efficacy. Evaluation methodology should be tailor-made for each programme and no one-size-fits-all evaluation method is possible. Suitable evaluation methodology exists, but practitioners require skills and knowledge to use different components and techniques creatively to suit the specific purposes of their programmes/projects. In conclusion I suggest an evaluation toolkit as possible solution to the above mentioned problems, which encompasses the facilitation of knowledge and skills, whilst empowering facilitators to design and implement an appropriate evaluation method that accurately measures the effectiveness of their applied theatre programmes.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Hierdie studie ondersoek die problematiek rondom die meting van verandering wat deur toegepaste teater programme te wee gebring word. Gedragsverandering word as resultaat deur menigte toegepaste teater programme, projekte en praktisyns aangevoer. Sulke stellings word dikwels met agterdog bejeën, aangesien dit nie deur deeglike en geldige metings- en evalueringsmetodologie ondersteun word nie. Praktisyns bekla gereeld die gebrek aan toepaslike assesserings- en evaluasiemetodes en -tegnieke, nie net om die effektiwiteit van ʼn program te meet nie, maar ook om programme te verbeter en om verslag aan befondsers te doen. Die studie is op drie navorsingsvrae gesentreerd, naamlik a) Waarom is assessering nodig en wat behels verandering; b) Waarom huidige metodes slaag of faal; en c) Wat praktisyns benodig van ʼn metingsinstrument. ʼn Bronnestudie en ʼn empiriese ondersoek is onderneem om hierdie drie vrae te beantwoord. Tydens die bronnestudie word eerstens ondersoek ingestel na waarom dit nodig is om programme en projekte te assesseer en evalueer. Tweedens word ondersoek ingestel na verandering; wat verandering is en hoe verandering werk. Evaluering- en assesseringsmetodes en -tegnieke binne die sosiale wetenskappe word bespreek en vergelykings word getref om te sien of hierdie teorieë, tegnieke en metodes van toepassing kan wees op toegepaste teater programme. Laastens word evaluering- en assesseringsmetodes wat deur toegepaste teaterpraktisyns gebruik word, ondersoek en die effektiwiteit daarvan bespreek. Die empiriese studie is in die vorm van ʼn aanlyn vraelys en onderhoude en die vrae wat hierin gestel is hou verband met die drie navorsingsvrae wat geïdentifiseer is. Die resultate van die empiriese studie ondersteun die bevindinge van die bronnestudie. Praktisyns stem grotendeels saam dat programme en projekte geassesseer en geëvalueer moet word, maar ʼn kombinasie van faktore soos ʼn gebrek aan kennis en vaardigheid ten opsigte van evalueringspraktyk, die ingewikkelde aard van toegepaste teater programme, die uitdagings om menslike gedragsverandering te meet en die probleem om verandering aan een spesifieke invloed toe te skryf, oorweldig praktisyns en kweek ʼn gevoel van magteloosheid. Teorieë oor verandering is wyd nagevors, maar die meeste toegepaste teaterpraktisyns is onbewus van hoe hierdie teorieë werk. Sulke onbewuste nalatigheid skep groter probleme, wanneer in ag geneem word dat die meeste evaluering en assessseringsmetodes op ʼn spesifieke teorie van verandering baseer is. Teen die agtergrond van wat verandering en volhoubare verandering beteken, moet eerder ʼn verskuiwing plaasvind vanaf veranderingsuitkomste na ʼn aanmoediging van doelmatigheid. Elke program benodig ʼn pasgemaakte evaluasie metode, geen universele evaluasiemetode is derhalwe lewensvatbaar nie. Toepaslike evalueringsmetodiek bestaan, maar kennis en vaardigheid word benodig om kreatief te werk te gaan om verskillende komponente en tegnieke te identifiseer en saam te voeg om by die unieke behoeftes van ʼn program te pas. Ter afsluiting word ʼn evalueringshulpmiddel voorgestel, wat toespits op die uitbreiding van vaardigheid en kennis en praktisyns bemagtig om ʼn effektiewe evalueringsmetode te ontwerp en te implementeer wat by die behoeftes van hul unieke program pas.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/106023
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