SLU news

Training course in theory of change and systematic review

Published: 12 September 2018

An international group of eleven expert scientists involved in AgriFoSe2030 Theme 3, Increased productivity and diversity in smallholder cropping systems, travelled from Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Rwanda, South Africa and Uganda to a cold and snowy Sweden in March to participate in a training course in Theory of Change and Systematic Review.

The first three days were dedicated to the concepts behind the ‘Theory of Change’ (ToC) approach and how it can support their strategies to translate science into policy and practice, to contribute to increased productivity and diversity in small holder cropping systems. The training was led by Isabel Vogel, an independent evaluation consultant from the UK.

Real case studies to apply theory of change

Working on real case studies taken from projects in Theme 3, participants drew on their own experiences and practical examples while following a step-by-step approach to apply theory of change in their project groups. The training was ‘hands-on’, as participants directly applied their new knowledge to their AgriFoSe work in the workshop.

– Topics covered included a rapid contextual analysis using the ‘Rich Picture’ technique, checking the logic of their ToCs and identifying and analysing assumptions by categorising them, and assessing the risks they pose to the ToC, says Johanna Wetterlind, one of the course arrangers.

All the participants of the course at Ultuna. Photo: Kristin Piikki.
Participants discussing Theory of Change at the course. Photo: Johanna Wetterlind.

Communication to influence practitioners, policy makers and entrepreneurs

Participants also increased their understanding of effective research communication strategies to help influence practitioners, policy makers and entrepreneurs. Led by Anneli Sundin from the AgriFoSe Communications and Engagement team, they learned about practical tools like Message Box, techniques like ‘And, But, Therefore’, and practiced the art of creating engaging, emotional stories from their research.

Systematic reviews - literature reviews that collect secondary data and synthesize studies

During the last two days of the course, the participants were introduced to the concept of Systematic Review by Agneta Lindsten, Britt Marie Bergquist and Mattias Lennartsson from the SLU library. The days consisted of short lectures introducing the different steps, alternated with hands-on exercises using their own projects as study objects.

– During two intensive days, the participants learned about differences between a narrative and systematic review, formulating research questions according to the PICO model, searching in different databases, the screening process, how to avoid, or at least document and evaluate all sources of bias, and above all, the need for careful documentation for transparency and reliability, says Johanna Wetterlind.


About AgriFoSe2030

The AgriFoSe2030 programme contributes to sustainable intensification of agriculture for increased food production on existing agricultural land; the aim is to do so by transforming practices toward more efficient use of human, financial and natural resources.

Theme 3 - Increased productivity and diversity in smallholder cropping systems for increased food security

Theme 3 in the AgriFoSe2030 programme  work for increased food security through sustainable increased productivity and diversity in smallholder cropping systems. The theme is focusing on yield gap – causes and interventions for sustainable intensification and consequences of intensification, diversification and market introduction on the household living conditions and the sustainability of the production.


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