The Need for Theoretical Grounding
The NERUPI Evaluation Framework integrates theory and practice to inform the design, delivery and evaluation of Widening Participation interventions, in order to maximise, capture and demonstrate their impact.
But an increase - or decrease - in numbers participating or achieving success does not give us the whole picture or explain the impact of interventions themselves. In complex areas such as Widening Participation, which aims to widen access and support students to develop, realise and mobilise their capabilities, it is essential to take the wider context into account. Here the Framework draws on realist concepts to inform its approach.
The NERUPI Framework does not set out to reproduce or adapt standardised and decontextualised intervention and evaluation practices. Rather, it provides a conceptual structure for designing interventions with clear aims and objectives to meet specific purposes. This allows the gathering of meaningful data that enables impact to be assessed in terms of the goals of the interventions. As Harrison and Waller (2017) argue, most successful interventions are based upon a ‘theory of change’ where effectiveness is assessed by identifying changes resulting from the intervention.