Theories of change and the measurement of a credible evidence. preliminary results of the impact evaluation of a multi-regional project contrasting the educational poverty
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This research article stands among those evaluative studies which combine qualitative and quantitative methods to identify, understand and measure processes of change supported by public policies. The study combined a qualitative investigation to reconstruct the Theory of Change (ToC) of a multiregional project to fight educational poverty with a uasiexperimental evaluation design of its effects. Constructs measured as potential outcomes were first identified as core concepts of three transformative mechanisms (wellbeing in the classroom, discovery of talents, better emotion regulation), which project’s coordinators and educators believe have been activated on adolescents. Notwithstanding a limited size of the comparison group, it has been possible to identify some effects of one of the three transformative mechanisms (discovery of talents) – although only within one of the five strata of each regional group into which the sample has been previously divided. In addition, a correlation analysis between the constructs which characterize each mechanism of change examined the credibility of the theories claimed by the project’s coordinators and educators, confirming mainly the connections between motivational constructs – i.e, self efficacy beliefs, intrinsic motivation and flow experience in the classroom. These results encourage a deeper investigation of the intrinsic transformative potential of the proposed mechanisms, despite the limited effects detected on the beneficiaries