Sei sulla pagina 1di 29

The Psychology Research

Handbook: A Guide for Graduate


Students and Research Assistants
Program Evaluation:
Concepts and Perspectives
Contributors: James W. Altschuld & James T. Austin
Editors: Frederick T. L. Leong & James T. Austin
Book Title: The Psychology Research Handbook: A Guide for Graduate Students and
Research Assistants
Chapter Title: "Program Evaluation: Concepts and Perspectives"
Pub. Date: 2006
Access Date: May 28, 2014
Publishing Company: SAGE Publications, Inc.
City: Thousand Oaks
Print ISBN: 9780761930228
Online ISBN: 9781412976626
DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.4135/9781412976626.n5
Print pages: 75-91
2006 SAGE Publications, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
This PDF has been generated from SAGE knowledge. Please note that the pagination
of the online version will vary from the pagination of the print book.
SK Marketing
2006 SAGE Publications, Inc. All Rights Reserved. SAGE knowledge
Page 3 of 29 The Psychology Research Handbook: A Guide
for Graduate Students and Research Assistants:
Program Evaluation: Concepts and Perspectives
http://dx.doi.org/10.4135/9781412976626.n5
[p. 75

]
Chapter 5: Program Evaluation: Concepts
and Perspectives
Concepts and perspectives
James W.AltschuldJames T.Austin
At first it might seem strange or even somewhat misplaced that a handbook dealing with
research in psychology would contain a chapter on evaluation. After all, evaluation is
an activity that is carried out for a purpose quite different from that of research, that is,
to guide practical decision making in applied settings. Add to this the fact that although
there is scientific study of evaluation, many scholars and empirical researchers still tend
to look with disdain at the topic. It is perceived to be poor research, that is, research
often conducted with much less control than the norm in articles in prestigious, refereed
academic journals. Beyond these issues is the further concern that evaluation is usually
not based on theoretical understandings. For these reasons collectively, some social
scientists may not ascribe much value to evaluation.
So we must begin by addressing the subtle, implicit questions in the first paragraph.
Why should evaluation be in this book, and why is it of importance and value for
practicing psychologists, psychology students, educational psychologists, and for that
matter, others in social science? We will provide several answers to this question.
A first answer is that psychologists in a variety of environments (businesses,
government organizations, educational institutions, etc.), in the course of their work,
might be called on to evaluate an activity or a program whether or not they have been
trained as evaluators or have in-depth comprehension of it. Davidson (2002), for
instance, shows how this could occur for industrial-organizational psychologists. They
are there in the situation, and they have had methodological training, so they must
be able to do it. Essentially, this is a reason by default. Secondly, evaluation has a
number of unique methodological and substantive content areas that would be useful
SK Marketing
2006 SAGE Publications, Inc. All Rights Reserved. SAGE knowledge
Page 4 of 29 The Psychology Research Handbook: A Guide
for Graduate Students and Research Assistants:
Program Evaluation: Concepts and Perspectives
for psychologists to understand and be able to use in their work. A third answer is that
some psychologists will undoubtedly lead or participate in evaluations as their main
professional focus.
Therefore, the purposes of this chapter are to provide an overview of the nature of
evaluation, to define it conceptually, to show its relationship to research, and to give
a sense of what might have to be done to conduct an evaluation. Specifically, the
chapter is organized as follows: Some background related to defining evaluation is
described; defining evaluation with a comparison of evaluation and research, based
on the definition, comes next; and implications of the definition for practice and generic
types of [p. 76

] evaluation are the latter parts of the text. Last, a hands-on exercise,
which helps in pulling together ideas, will form the chapter conclusion.
Toward a Definition of Evaluation
In 2002, the lead author (Altschuld, 2002) wrote about a presentation that he had
attended at an annual meeting of the American Evaluation Association (http://
www.aea.org), a presentation that is relevant for defining evaluation. In a panel
conducted by individuals who were nearing completion of graduate programs or
who had just received their degrees, perspectives and views of the quality of the
educational experience were being shared and examined. The panelists explained
their backgrounds and then briefly discussed what they thought about their graduate
education in terms of learning and preparation for the job market.
One participant, a recent graduate, elaborated about his extensive coursework in
statistics and measurement and the skills he had gained in these areas. Later when
questions from the audience were appropriate, the coauthor asked him what in this set
of courses would constitute training for the practice of evaluation. Stated alternatively,
what really is evaluation, what does it mean to be an evaluator, what does an evaluator
do, how should one train for work as an evaluator, what should an evaluator know, and
what specific skills should an evaluator have? After all, would it not be better to think of
what he had taken as simply methodology and just call it that? Further, he was asked
if he had any courses that could be somehow thought of or construed as specifically
SK Marketing
2006 SAGE Publications, Inc. All Rights Reserved. SAGE knowledge
Page 5 of 29 The Psychology Research Handbook: A Guide
for Graduate Students and Research Assistants:
Program Evaluation: Concepts and Perspectives
emphasizing evaluation concepts, whatever those concepts might be, even if they were
distantly related to evaluation.
He pondered for a moment and to his credit replied that he had never considered this
line of inquiry, and in reality, his background could not be viewed as actually dealing
with evaluation. There was nothing specific in it related to, or called, evaluation.
The point here is not to discount being well grounded in methodology or that evaluators
need sound methodological understandings in order to be successful in the field. That
is neither an issue nor debatable. Indeed, our advisees are required to take many
quantitative and qualitative methods courses. Rather, methodology, although necessary
and critically important for evaluation, constitutes, by itself, an insufficient condition for
being adequately trained in the field and understanding its substance.
Evidence to support the above assertion can be found in international studies of
evaluation training conducted by Altschuld, Engle, Cullen, Kim, and Macce (1994) and
by Engle and Altschuld (2003/2004). Also, the writing of individuals concerned with
the training of evaluators is pertinent here. For example, see Scriven (1996), Altschuld
(1995, 2002), Mertens (1994), and the recent work of King, Stevahn, Ghere, and
Minnema (2001) in regard to the critical skill domains required to be an evaluator.
In 1994, Altschuld and his colleagues identified 47 university-based evaluation training
programs, and in a repeat of the same study in 2001, Engle and Altschuld found 29
programs. Although the number of programs is smaller, it is also apparent from studying
trends across the two time periods that there has been a slow, steady, and noticeable
emergence of a unique set of courses with specialized evaluation content. That content
is quite distinct from research and/or measurement methodology. Examples include
evaluation theory and models, applied evaluation design for field settings, evaluation
and program planning, evaluation and its relationship to the formation of policy, cost-
benefit analysis, readings and research in evaluation, and others (Engle, Altschuld,
& Kim, 2005). Nearly all of these topics are not covered in traditional methodology
offerings or other courses in psychology and other social science disciplines, or they are
covered only tangentially.
SK Marketing
2006 SAGE Publications, Inc. All Rights Reserved. SAGE knowledge
Page 6 of 29 The Psychology Research Handbook: A Guide
for Graduate Students and Research Assistants:
Program Evaluation: Concepts and Perspectives
Several writers have discussed the skill sets needed for evaluation work. Mertens
(1994) presented a taxonomy derived rationally from literature reviews and discussions
with colleagues. It consisted of grouping the knowledge and skills into the following
areas: research methodology, borrowed from other areas, and unique to specific
disciplines. The work of King and her associates (King et al., 2001) is particularly
relevant because of its combination of rational and empirical methods. King etal.
(2001) engaged 31 individuals representing a diverse set [p. 77

] of backgrounds
and contexts of practice in rating the relative importance for 69 domains or items of
evaluation capability. Using what they describe as a multiattribute consensus-building
process, they reported that they achieved significant agreement on 54 of the 69 (78%)
competencies. King etal. (2001) proposed four skill domains in which evaluators must
be successful, not only doing evaluations but obtaining the results of evaluations
accepted and used in making decisions. Those domains are (a) systematic inquiry,
(b) competent evaluation practice, (c) general skills for evaluation practice, and (d)
evaluation professionalism. Stevahn, King, Minnema, and Ghere (2005) followed up
with additional research and refinement. Finally, a project by the Canadian Evaluation
Society (CES) that focused on advocacy and professional development also addressed
capacity building. The literature review by McGuire (2002) focused on the benefits,
outputs, processes, and knowledge elements of evaluation.
Given the nature of emerging curricula, the evolving dimensions of evaluative thinking,
and the skill domains, what is evaluation? In what ways does it differ from research, and
in what ways is it similar?
Defining Evaluation and Some Useful
Distinctions
From many sources (Scriven, 1991; Stuffle-beam, 1971, 1980, 2002; Worthen,
Sanders, & Fitzpatrick, 1997), there are common features to the definition of evaluation.
Synthesizing across these authors, we could define or think of evaluation as a process
or set of procedures for providing information for judging decision alternatives or for
determining the merit and worth of a process, product, or program.
SK Marketing
2006 SAGE Publications, Inc. All Rights Reserved. SAGE knowledge
Page 7 of 29 The Psychology Research Handbook: A Guide
for Graduate Students and Research Assistants:
Program Evaluation: Concepts and Perspectives
Imbedded in this collated, conceptual definition are subtleties that help us to distinguish
between research and evaluation, as well as to explain the practice of evaluation. In
Table 5.1, evaluation and research are briefly compared in terms of several dimensions
emanating from the definition. When examining the table, keep in mind that the
comparisons are somewhat exaggerated to aid the discussion and your understanding.
Probably a better way to think about the linkage between evaluation and research is to
use Venn diagrams with areas of overlap as well as areas of uniqueness.
In Table 5.1, evaluation is presented as being conducted in field situations to guide and
facilitate the making of decisions. This immediately implies that evaluators must identify
who the decision makers and key stakeholding groups are, the degree of their influence
on the entity being evaluated, and how their value positions and perspectives will
affect the evaluation. This point is so important that audience identification for results
and involvement in the process of evaluation is highlighted as the first standard in the
Program Evaluation Standards (American Evaluation Association, 1995). Evaluators
essentially work at the behest of decision makers, and the needs of multiple decision-
making audiences have to be factored into all evaluations. Evaluators have to carefully
maintain their objectivity and avoid being co-opted (handling their results to favor a
political or vested position), given the social and political environments in which they
exist.
Researchers, on the other hand, in the best of all possible worlds, are not working on
someone else's priorities but more in terms of their own curiosity about phenomena.
Their wonderment, their questioning, their desire to know and understand, and even
their awe are what drives the enterprise, not what someone else wants. This is an ideal
point of view, but at the same time, we recognize that politics and values can influence
research. Political forces frequently push certain substantive areas or stress what
methodologies might be acceptable at a point in time. Despite that, the ideal is one that
we should strive for and cherish with regard to research.
Looking at the comparisons in the second row of the table, the relationship of evaluation
to theory is not as strong or prominent as it is in research. Although there are theory-
driven evaluations and the idea of theory in a variety of forms and connotations
does affect evaluation (see Chen, 1990), for the most part evaluations are directed
toward practical concerns of decision makers and stakeholders, not toward theory.
SK Marketing
2006 SAGE Publications, Inc. All Rights Reserved. SAGE knowledge
Page 8 of 29 The Psychology Research Handbook: A Guide
for Graduate Students and Research Assistants:
Program Evaluation: Concepts and Perspectives
Proving (demonstrating) the validity of a theory or proposition versus depicting
how well something works in a field setting (its [p. 78

] impact or effect) and then


describing what its implementation entailed is a critical distinction between research and
evaluation. Evaluation looks at program performance and how it might be improved in
subsequent use and has less of a theory orientation than does research.
Dimensions Evaluation Craft Research Craft
Driving force for endeavor Interests of decision
makers and other
stakeholders
Personal interest and
curiosity of the researcher
Value/political positions of
multiple groups/individuals
come into play
Purposes Facilitate decision making Understand phenomena
Show how well something
did or did not work
Develop theory (ultimately)
or to prove a proposition
Improve real world practice Add to body of knowledge
Degree of autonomy Variable to possibly very
limited, with evaluator
always directly in midst of
the decision-making milieu
Ideally, autonomy should
be very high (production
of knowledge should be
unfettered)
Generalizability Often limited to the specific
local environment
The greater the
generalizability (over time,
location, and situation) the
better
Methodological stance Tends to be multimethod or
mixed method in approach
Tends to be less
multimethod in orientation
SOURCES: Adapted from Worthen and Sanders (1973, 1987); Worthen, Sanders, and
Fitzpatrick (1997); Altschuld (2002).
SK Marketing
2006 SAGE Publications, Inc. All Rights Reserved. SAGE knowledge
Page 9 of 29 The Psychology Research Handbook: A Guide
for Graduate Students and Research Assistants:
Program Evaluation: Concepts and Perspectives
It is fairly obvious that the evaluator, due to being imbedded in the complex and political
realities of schools and organizations, may have limited ability to be an independent
and autonomous actor (or sense that that is the casesee the third row of the table).
Furthermore, the evaluator may have to assume a political role in his or her work
(Fitzpatrick, 1989). On the other hand, it is absolutely imperative for the researcher
to be autonomous. Do we, in our kind of society, want drug or tobacco companies to
be able to control what the researcher does, what methods the researcher uses, and
what, in turn, can be said publicly about the findings and results of the research? This
comparison is purposely exaggerated, to a degree. On numerous occasions, evaluators
will experience relatively minor constraints on the conduct of their business, and in
some instances the researchers may feel intense political heat and pressure.
Entries in the last two rows of the table further aid in seeing distinctions. Evaluations
are many times localized, and thus the results do not generalize. The interests of the
decision makers, the evaluators, or both do not relate to generalizability of results, and
it often is not foremost in the minds of the evaluators. Evaluation stress is more on the
localized findings and how they can affect change and improvement within a specific
and narrow context.
Conversely, researchers in the social sciences are more attentive to the generalizability
concept. They have a need to publish in journals for reasons of advancement and
salary, as well as professionalism. Part of the scrutiny of those journals will be external
validity, in the Campbell and Stanley meaning of the phrase. External validity, although
not unimportant to the evaluator, will be of more prominence to the researcher. As
far as methods go (see the fifth row), the demands of evaluation will tend to require
the utilization of multiple or mixed methods applications. In fact, numerous writings
have dealt with how mixed methods can be incorporated into evaluation and needs
assessment strategies (Altschuld & Witkin, 2000; [p. 79

] Caracelli, 1989; Greene &


Caracelli, 1997; Mark & Shotland, 1987; Tashakkori & Teddlie, 2002; Witkin & Altschuld,
1995).
On balance, based on these brief comparisons, it may seem that research would be
the preferred activity. Just predicated on autonomy and the driving force underlying the
endeavor, wouldn't people prefer to be researchers rather than evaluators?
SK Marketing
2006 SAGE Publications, Inc. All Rights Reserved. SAGE knowledge
Page 10 of 29 The Psychology Research Handbook: A Guide
for Graduate Students and Research Assistants:
Program Evaluation: Concepts and Perspectives
But evaluation has its advantages as well. Evaluation is closer to decision making,
the formulation of policy, and program or project improvement. Evaluators may more
directly and rapidly see the impact of their work on organizations and, in turn, those who
are the recipients of the services organizations offer. In contrast, the gratification from
research is most likely long-term in realization. Finally, it should not be overlooked that
evaluators conduct research on their field or incorporate research into their evaluation
activities, and many publish their findings in very reputable evaluation journals with
rather high rejection rates (e.g. Evaluation Review, Evaluation and Program Planning,
Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, and American Journal of Evaluation).
Implications of the Definition for Practice
How do evaluators go about their work? What may seem to be a simple process can
become complex as we probe beneath the surface of our conceptual definition. Using
that definition as our anchor, what must evaluators consider as they plan and conduct
evaluations? Table 5.2 contains a sampling of implications drawn from an analysis of
the definition. The sampling, although incomplete, does reveal why some evaluations
are not easy to implement (and the subtle, almost hidden decisions that have to be
made in virtually any evaluation).
Keep in mind that, and we must emphasize that, the table is just a sampling of what
the evaluator must think about when working with the highly varied consumers of his or
her work. Furthermore, most evaluators do not have the luxury of doing evaluations in
just one area (e.g., math education programs, training and development, social service
delivery).
Professional evaluators tend to be eclectic, having to apply their knowledge of the
practice of evaluation and their experience to evaluate programs in many settings
and specialized subject matter fields. For example in our own backgrounds, we
have conducted evaluations in science education, reading, corporate training and
development, team-building projects, and so forth.
A couple of the row entries are not dealt with in any great detail. As one example,
the nature of what is being evaluated (row 3) can be extremely variable and may
SK Marketing
2006 SAGE Publications, Inc. All Rights Reserved. SAGE knowledge
Page 11 of 29 The Psychology Research Handbook: A Guide
for Graduate Students and Research Assistants:
Program Evaluation: Concepts and Perspectives
necessitate working with a subject matter expert. Consider the case of evaluating a
new reading program or evaluating a health care delivery system from the perspective
of a person who is seeking assistance for an elderly relative and trying to navigate the
maze of our current health care system. Another example is multiple methods, which
is a very substantial topic. Both of these rows are important and could be explored in
depth. Treating them to any appreciable degree far exceeds the scope of this chapter.
Most of the rest of Table 5.2 is self explanatory, so we will point out only several issues.
In the first row, merit and worth decisions are noted. Merit refers to the quality of the
idea underlying a new program or project. When we evaluate merit, we are assessing
(usually via expert review and judgment) whether or not there is intrinsic value in an
idea or proposed entity. Worth, on the other hand, refers to the outcomes achieved
by a project. Are they substantial and of value? Cost-benefit analysis and return-
on-investment methods can be used in the investigation of this aspect of evaluation
decision making.
In the second row, an essential and early part of any evaluation is ascertaining who
the decision makers are, their relative order in terms of importance, and if multiple
levels of decision makers with differing information needs are apparent. If the latter
is the case and if there are disparate requirements for information, the skills of the
evaluator may be sorely taxed, and tight evaluation budgets might be stretched to the
limit. In educational situations, the evaluator may be asked to provide data for high-level
decisions and the formation of policy and, at the same time, be pressed for detailed
and very [p. 80

] [p. 81

] specific suggestions for improvement by curriculum


developers. Test data, which will satisfy the first level, seldom provides much of use for
the second.
SK Marketing
2006 SAGE Publications, Inc. All Rights Reserved. SAGE knowledge
Page 12 of 29 The Psychology Research Handbook: A Guide
for Graduate Students and Research Assistants:
Program Evaluation: Concepts and Perspectives
In the fourth row, it is important to determine the time phase of the entity being
evaluated. This point has routinely been noted by numerous writers and in their
evaluation models. The well-known CIPP model, proposed by Stufflebeam in 1971,
is predicated on four time phases going from the start of a project to its completion.
In context evaluation, the need for the endeavor is assessed (and needs assessment
now tends to be recognized as an important aspect of evaluation). Input evaluation
is concerned with the adequacy of resources and strategies for resolving the need;
process evaluation looks at how the solution is being implemented and what is working
and what must be modified to make the solution work better; and finally the purpose of
product evaluation is to find out what outcomes were achieved and the level to which
SK Marketing
2006 SAGE Publications, Inc. All Rights Reserved. SAGE knowledge
Page 13 of 29 The Psychology Research Handbook: A Guide
for Graduate Students and Research Assistants:
Program Evaluation: Concepts and Perspectives
they were achieved. Similar notions of time can be found in the work of Kirkpatrick
(1959, 1998) and Holton, Bates, and Naquin (2000) in the development and evaluation
of training programs and Altschuld and Kumar (1995, 2002) in the evaluation of science
and technology education programs.
The last row underscores the fact that evaluation, at its core, is oriented toward the
utilization of findings. Without utilization, evaluation would be an empty activity, devoid
of value and meaning (an activity of little merit). But what is utilization and how does it
come about in complex organizations with internal and external power bases and the
interplay of political forces and expediencies? These are not easy matters to explain.
Leviton and Hughes (1981) observed that there are three types of utilization:
instrumental, conceptual, and persuasive. Instrumental is utilization that occurs as a
direct result of the findings and recommendations of an evaluation. Ideally, this is what
evaluators hope for and expect to occur. Unfortunately, for the most part in evaluation
thinking, conceptual rather than instrumental utilization is what takes place. Conceptual
utilization occurs when the ideas in the evaluation, the concepts imbedded in it, and
the findings come together to begin to affect the thinking and emerging understandings
of decision makers. Slowly, the evaluation is inculcated into the deliberation process
and influences decisions that will occur much later. The effect of the evaluation is
there, but it is interacting in the process of change in almost indiscernible ways. This
makes it difficult to trace the impact or effect of evaluation. Persuasive utilization is
utilization intended to foster a political purpose, even one that is predisposed before
the evaluation is undertaken. Obviously this last type of utilization is to be avoided if
possible.
In 1993, Altschuld, Yoon, and Cullen studied the direct and conceptual utilization of
administrators who had participated in needs assessments (NAs). They found that
conceptualization was indeed more prominent than instrumental utilization to the
administrators, although they had been personally involved in the NA process. This
study would tend to confirm that conceptual is more the norm than instrumental.
More must be said about persuasive use. Certainly, the evaluator has to be aware of
the potential for this negative situation and do his or her best to avoid it. If one is an
SK Marketing
2006 SAGE Publications, Inc. All Rights Reserved. SAGE knowledge
Page 14 of 29 The Psychology Research Handbook: A Guide
for Graduate Students and Research Assistants:
Program Evaluation: Concepts and Perspectives
external evaluator, a contract can always be turned down. If one is internal, then an
advisory group for the evaluation can ameliorate the political pressure to some degree.
But is politics always bad? Political concerns can, and in some circumstances do, play
an important positive role in evaluation. Political pressure from opposing points of view
can lead to balanced support for an evaluation of a controversial project or program.
Legislators and others might simply want to know what is taking place and how well a
program is working. They may desire to implement good public policy that helps rather
than hinders.
Further, due to politics, the financial underwriting of the evaluation might be greater than
otherwise would be the case, making a better (not financially constrained) evaluation
possible. The controversy can help to illuminate issues to be emphasized in the
evaluation and can even lead to more enthusiasm and ultimately buy-in for the
implementation of results. So the evaluator must monitor the political factors (positives
and negatives) of any evaluation and be prepared to deal with them as they arise.
[p. 82

]
Generic Types of Evaluation
Reviewing the prior sections of this chapter, we find that different types of evaluation
have been woven into or alluded to in the discussion. Other classifications of evaluation
are possible with the one given below having been used in the teaching of evaluation
classes at The Ohio State University. For another example of a classification scheme
see the Worthen, Sanders, and Fitzpatrick (1997) text cited earlier.
In Table 5.3, an informal listing of types of evaluation is offered. It is intended to convey
the range of activities often conducted under the rubric or title of evaluation. With the
entries in the table, a more comprehensive picture (in conjunction with the definition of
evaluation, its comparison to research, and key aspects of what evaluators do) should
now be coming into view.
SK Marketing
2006 SAGE Publications, Inc. All Rights Reserved. SAGE knowledge
Page 15 of 29 The Psychology Research Handbook: A Guide
for Graduate Students and Research Assistants:
Program Evaluation: Concepts and Perspectives
The entries in the table are, for the most part, self explanatory with perhaps the
exception of needs assessment (NA). Need is defined as the measurable discrepancy
between the what-is status and the what-should-be status of an entity. Generally,
the what-should-be status comes from collective value judgment. Examples [p. 83

]
would be the following: What should be the outcomes of a high school education? What
should be the wellness level of the U.S. population? What constitutes reasonable and
cost-feasible access to drug therapies? And so forth. Current or what-is status can
be ascertained from a variety of methods including records, surveys, observations,
databases, and so forth. Numerous methodological approaches are available for
assessing needs, and over the last 20 years many texts have been written describing
the nature of needs and procedures for assessing them (Altschuld & Witkin, 2000;
McKillip, 1998; Witkin & Altschuld, 1995).
After the states have been determined, the process continues with prioritizing the
resulting needs or discrepancies and transforming the high priorities needs into
SK Marketing
2006 SAGE Publications, Inc. All Rights Reserved. SAGE knowledge
Page 16 of 29 The Psychology Research Handbook: A Guide
for Graduate Students and Research Assistants:
Program Evaluation: Concepts and Perspectives
organizational action plans to resolve or reduce the problem underlying or causing the
discrepancy. In other words, decisions to design and implement programs should be
based on clearly delineated needs. From some perspectives, needs assessment might
appear to be more of a planning topic type of activity, so why was it placed in Table 5.3
as a type of evaluation work?
Several reasons support such placement. A well-implemented NA illuminates major
problems, what key variables relate to them or are causing them, and what likely
solutions might be. It is the essential condition for designing and implementing good
programs; and by virtue of its analytic properties, it should enhance the overall
evaluation of solution strategies that are developed and used. Therefore, one of the
reasons is that evaluation and NA are inextricably intertwined; they are two ends of one
continuum.
A second reason is basically an offshoot of the first. A small (almost informal) national
group of needs assessors felt that they could not survive as a small group; therefore,
in the late 1980s they began to cast about for a larger society with which to affiliate.
They chose the American Evaluation Association (AEA), based on the recognition that
evaluation and NA were highly related. Now, as a partial outgrowth of that event, most
evaluators see NA as important to the practice of evaluation. Other entries in Table 5.3
could have been discussed in a similar fashion. Needs assessment was singled out as
an exemplar to demonstrate the thought process.
Toward the Future
As we near the end of this exposition, consider for a moment evaluation as a
profession. As a discipline, evaluation emerged in psychology and in education during
the 1930s. Ralph Tyler's Eight-Year Study and notions of curriculum evaluation were
pioneer landmarks in education, and Rossi, Lipsey, and Freeman (2004) point to
field studies of evaluation conducted by Kurt Lewin and other social psychologists.
Nonetheless, these were isolated instances and were not formalized in terms of
department or area status, curriculum, journals, and professional organizations. Rossi
et al. (2004) went on to define a boom period in evaluation following World War II and
pointed out its emergence as a specialized area during the 1970s. Their indicators of
SK Marketing
2006 SAGE Publications, Inc. All Rights Reserved. SAGE knowledge
Page 17 of 29 The Psychology Research Handbook: A Guide
for Graduate Students and Research Assistants:
Program Evaluation: Concepts and Perspectives
emergence included books, journals, and associations. The books that have shaped
the discipline are numerous. They include pioneering classics (Suchman, 1967),
methodological contributions (Campbell & Stanley, 1966; Cook & Campbell, 1979), and
textbooks across multiple editions (Fitzpatrick, Sanders, & Worthen, 2003; Rossi etal.,
2004). Prominent journals devoted to evaluation range from the first, Evaluation Review
(since 1976), to the American Journal of Evaluation (since 1978), and Evaluation
and Program Planning (since 1980). Two key professional associations in the United
States are the American Evaluation Association (http://www.eval.org), created in 1986
through a merger between the Evaluation Network (ENet) and the Evaluation Research
Society (ERS), and the American Educational Research Association Evaluation
Division (http://aera.net). Many other professional organizations exist across nations,
including the Canadian Evaluation Association (http://www.evaluationcanada.ca/), the
European Evaluation Society (http://www.europeanevaluation.org), the U.K. Evaluation
Society (http://www.evaluation.uk), and the Australasian Evaluation Society (http://
www.parklane.com.au/aes). Instances of these features are depicted in Table 5.4.
[p. 84

]
Why focus on the future of evaluation? We might reply, For one major reason.
The demand for evaluation is increasing rapidly, even as university-based training
programs are tending to disappear (Engle, Altschuld, & Kim, in process). Thus, a
priority need is to resuscitate graduate or other types of training in this important
discipline. Perhaps the multidisciplinary nature of program evaluation contributes to
SK Marketing
2006 SAGE Publications, Inc. All Rights Reserved. SAGE knowledge
Page 18 of 29 The Psychology Research Handbook: A Guide
for Graduate Students and Research Assistants:
Program Evaluation: Concepts and Perspectives
training issues due to the fact that evaluation training is housed in varied colleges and
departments (education, psychology, social work, public policy, and management).
Clearly, affiliation between psychologists and evaluators could be valuable for both
groups. Davidson (2002), in the aforementioned article, indicated that there is a
great interest in the evaluation community about industrial-organizational psychology
issues and that many opportunities exist for forms of involvement. Edwards, Scott,
and Raju (2003) edited a wide-ranging application of evaluation to human resource
management. Consider further that the major professional society for evaluators, the
American Evaluation Association, runs a major international discussion list, EVALTALK
(http://bama.ua.edu/archives/evaltalk.html). An informal group that coalesced at a
recent Society for Industrial Organizational Psychology conference, the Strategic
Evaluation Network, also runs an electronic mailing list specifically for people who do
evaluation in organizational settings (see http://evaluation.wmich.edu/archives). The
American Evaluation Association has a Business and Industry (B & I) Topical Interest
Group on evaluation (http://www.evaluationsolutions.com/aea-bi-tig), which welcomes
presentation proposals (and audience members!) for the annual conference each
November (details at http://eval.org).
Other features of the field include knowledge dissemination and globalization. The
Evaluation Center at Western Michigan University is a professional clearinghouse for
information, including bibliographies and checklists. The checklist project provides a
number of useful checklists for various evaluation functions (http://www.wmich.edu/
evalctr/checklists/). The checklists are organized under categories: evaluation
management, evaluation models, evaluation values and criteria, metaevaluation, and
other. There is even a checklist for developing checklists by Stufflebeam [p. 85

]
(http://www.wmich.edu/evalctr/checklists/cdc.htm). Globalization is clearly evident at the
Canadian Evaluation Association's Web site (http://consultation.evaluationcanada.ca/
resources.htm). There are links to evaluation standards, for example from associations
(Joint Committee on Standards for Educational Evaluation, 1994) and from nations
(Germany, Canada, United States).
SK Marketing
2006 SAGE Publications, Inc. All Rights Reserved. SAGE knowledge
Page 19 of 29 The Psychology Research Handbook: A Guide
for Graduate Students and Research Assistants:
Program Evaluation: Concepts and Perspectives
Conclusion
In this postscript, we attempt to tie together the strands of evaluation presented in
this chapter. First, the placement of evaluation in a psychology research handbook
makes good sense for several reasons. Readers may be called on to consume or
produce evaluations. Respectively, these two terms mean reading and reacting to
evaluation reports or designing, conducting, and reporting a program evaluation. An
individual trained in social psychology, for instance, might be asked to conduct a needs
assessment in order to design and evaluate a community-based collaborative conflict
resolution program. On the other hand, an industrial-organizational psychologist might
be charged with doing a training needs assessment in order to design a leadership
development program for middle and top managers.
Second, the nature of evaluation can be viewed as dynamic with exciting emergent
dimensions and twists. Third, using the definition of evaluation as a process or set of
procedures for providing information for judging decision alternatives or for determining
the merit and worth of a process, product, or program, we presented useful distinctions
as to several types of evaluation (Table 5.3). Fourth, we discussed the structure of
evaluation as a profession in a limited way to provide some context. Two key sets of
professional standards are the five AEA Guiding Principles (1995) and the Program
Evaluation Standards (Joint Committee on Standards for Educational Evaluation,
1994). Fifth and finally, we have provided three brain-storming exercises to tie your new
understandings together into a scaffolded mental model. As you practice evaluation,
read evaluation research, and talk to evaluation practitioners, this scaffolding will
eventually disappear, and you will be able to use the mental model for practice and
research.
SK Marketing
2006 SAGE Publications, Inc. All Rights Reserved. SAGE knowledge
Page 20 of 29 The Psychology Research Handbook: A Guide
for Graduate Students and Research Assistants:
Program Evaluation: Concepts and Perspectives
Exercises
Pulling Your Understandings Together
In evaluation workshops conducted for the National Association of School
Psychologists, Altschuld and Ronning (2000) developed a brainstorming activity that
fits well with the content of this chapter. To do this exercise, pretend that you are in
the specialized area of school psychology or modify the activity in accord with the
psychological work context that has most meaning for you. The activity consists of three
brainstorming or idea-generating parts and then examples of responses to them. Do not
peek ahead, but rather try your hand at the activity before glancing at our ideas about
possible responses. We believe that the activity constitutes an interesting, different, and
good way to summarize the concepts contained in this chapter.
Spend a minute or two thinking about the possibilities for school psychologists to
become involved in program evaluation (or substitute for school psychologists your
particular interest in psychology). Additional material on evaluation exercises and
activities may be found in Mertens (1989).
For example, what decisions are various stakeholders in your district facing? Are there
specific paperwork demands, time limits on referrals, or accountability reports? Do you
work under local guidelines and restrictions, the values of which are questionable? Are
your methods, results, and roles being scrutinized or changed erratically?
First, fill in the blanks from your experiences. These responses may vary widely as each
person works in, or will work in, different settings under different rules and regulations
and with different administrations and colleagues.
[p. 86

] Step 1: List up to 10 reasons why you might be called upon or wish to conduct
an evaluation. Reflect back on what was presented in the chapter, what evaluators do,
and the various types of evaluations. There are no wrong or right answers. Rather the
purpose here is to encourage you to think about all of the possibilities for conducting an
evaluation. Later, when you examine the reasons we supplied, please note that they
SK Marketing
2006 SAGE Publications, Inc. All Rights Reserved. SAGE knowledge
Page 21 of 29 The Psychology Research Handbook: A Guide
for Graduate Students and Research Assistants:
Program Evaluation: Concepts and Perspectives
are not definitive answers but come from a brainstorming activity very similar to what we
asked you to do.
[p. 87

]
Step 2: In the spaces provided below, identify as many programs as you can in which
evaluations could be conducted. What programs are you or your colleagues currently
involved with that may be appropriate for using evaluation techniques to determine their
worth or merit? For example, school psychologists in private practice may link closely
with community agencies and schools to provide mental health services. Is this more
effective than having the school psychologist assigned to specific buildings provide this
service? Or, you may be responsible for grief counseling of children in cooperation with
the local hospitals. List program titles in the appropriate space, or use a short phrase to
describe the program. List as many as you can.
Program Titles or Descriptive Phrases
SK Marketing
2006 SAGE Publications, Inc. All Rights Reserved. SAGE knowledge
Page 22 of 29 The Psychology Research Handbook: A Guide
for Graduate Students and Research Assistants:
Program Evaluation: Concepts and Perspectives
Step 3. Speculate about the types of activities evaluators might do in the course of an
evaluation and briefly describe them below.
Sampling of Responses to Brainstorming Activity
Step 1. List reasons why you might be called upon or wish to conduct an evaluation.
[p. 88

] Step 2: What programs are you or your colleagues currently involved with that
may be appropriate for using evaluation techniques to determine their worth or merit?
1. Community involvement programs
2. Districtwide proficiency interventions
3. Reading evaluation (primary)
4. Provision of school psychological services
SK Marketing
2006 SAGE Publications, Inc. All Rights Reserved. SAGE knowledge
Page 23 of 29 The Psychology Research Handbook: A Guide
for Graduate Students and Research Assistants:
Program Evaluation: Concepts and Perspectives
5. Therapy outcomes in conjunction with
6. Career planning or experience program
7. Reporting test results to parents, etc.
8. Parenting programs
9. Special education programs
10. Multihandicapped programs
11. Community outreach programs
12. Efficacy of multiage classrooms
13. School-based provision of health benefits
14. Head Start
15. All day, everyday kindergarten other providers (e.g., AA)
16. Preschool programs
17. Districtwide testing program
18. Statewide testing program
19. Effectiveness of research efforts
20. Effectiveness of local efforts to serve
Step 3. What types of activities do program evaluators do in the course of an
evaluation?
[p. 89

]
SK Marketing
2006 SAGE Publications, Inc. All Rights Reserved. SAGE knowledge
Page 24 of 29 The Psychology Research Handbook: A Guide
for Graduate Students and Research Assistants:
Program Evaluation: Concepts and Perspectives
Recommended Readings
The field of evaluation includes educational researchers and psychological researchers.
Among the resources for further understanding are the following: Witkin and Altschuld
(1995); the Encyclopedia of Evaluation (Mathison, 2004); and Rossi et al. (2004).
Bickman and Rog (1998) provide an edited collection of applied research methods
relevant to evaluation; Chelimsky and Shadish (1997) provide an edited collection
of forward-looking chapters on evaluation topics. Caron (1993) presents a Canadian
perspective on the body of knowledge for evaluation practice; Mark, Henry, and Julnes
(1999) articulated a framework for evaluation practice. The 1987 program evaluation
tool kit from Sage is another valuable resource. The evaluation tool kit at the Web site of
the W. K. Kellogg Foundation is exceptionally valuable as a distance resource (it can be
accessed at http://www.wkkf.org/).
References
Altschuld, J. W. Developing an evaluation program: Challenges in the teaching
of evaluation . Evaluation and Program Planning 18(3) (1995). 259265. http://
dx.doi.org/10.1016/S0149-7189%2895%2900014-3
Altschuld, J. W. The preparation of professional evaluators: Past tense and future
perfect . Japanese Journal of Evaluation Studies 2(1) (2002). 19.
Altschuld, J. W.Engle, M.Cullen, CKim, I.Macce, B. R. The 1994 directory of evaluation
training programs . New Directions in Program Evaluation 62 (1994). 7194. http://
dx.doi.org/10.1002/ev.1678
Altschuld, J. W.Kumar, D. D. Program evaluation in science education: The model
perspective . New Directions for Program Evaluation 65 (1995). 517. http://
dx.doi.org/10.1002/ev.1699
SK Marketing
2006 SAGE Publications, Inc. All Rights Reserved. SAGE knowledge
Page 25 of 29 The Psychology Research Handbook: A Guide
for Graduate Students and Research Assistants:
Program Evaluation: Concepts and Perspectives
Altschuld, J. W., & Kumar, D. D. (2002). Evaluation of science and technology
education at the dawn of a new millennium . New York: Kluwer/Plenum. http://
dx.doi.org/10.1007/0-306-47560-X
Altschuld, J. W., & Ronning, M. (2000). Program evaluation: Planning a program
evaluation . Invited Workshop presented at 32nd annual convention of the National
Association of School Psychologists, New Orleans, LA.
Altschuld, J. W., & Witkin, B. R. (2000). From needs assessment to action:
Transforming needs into solution strategies . Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
Altschuld, J. WYoon, J. S.Cullen, C. The utilization of needs assessment
results . Evaluation and Program Planning 16 (1993). 279285. http://
dx.doi.org/10.1016/0149-7189%2893%2990040-F
American Evaluation Association . Guiding principles for evaluators . New Directions for
Program Evaluation 66 (1995). 1926.
Bickman, L., ed. , & Rog, D. (Eds.). (1998). Handbook of applied social research .
Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
Campbell, D. T, & Stanley, J. C. (1966). Experimental and quasi-experimental designs
for research . Chicago: Rand McNally.
Caracelli, V. J. Structured conceptualization: A framework for interpreting
evaluation results . Evaluation and Program Planning 12 (1989). 4552. http://
dx.doi.org/10.1016/0149-7189%2889%2990021-9
Caron, D. J. Knowledge required to perform the duties of an evaluator . Canadian
Journal of Program Evaluation 8 (1993). 5979.
Chelimsky, E., ed. , & Shadish, W. R. (Eds.). (1997). Evaluation for the 21st century: A
handbook . Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
Chen, H-T. (1990). Theory-driven evaluations . Newbury Park, CA: Sage.
SK Marketing
2006 SAGE Publications, Inc. All Rights Reserved. SAGE knowledge
Page 26 of 29 The Psychology Research Handbook: A Guide
for Graduate Students and Research Assistants:
Program Evaluation: Concepts and Perspectives
Cook, T. D., & Campbell, D. T. (1979). Quasi-exper-imentation: Design and analysis
issues for field settings . Chicago: Rand McNally.
Davidson, E. J. The discipline of evaluation: A helicopter tour for I/O psychologists .
Industrial/Organizational Psychologist 40(2)(2002, October). 3135.
Edwards, J. E., ed. , Scott, J. C, ed. , & Raju, N. S. (Eds.). (2003). The human
resources program evaluation handbook . Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. http://
dx.doi.org/10.4135/9781412986199
Engle, M.Altschuld, J. W An update on university-based training . Evaluation Exchange
9(4)(2003/2004). 13.
Engle, M., Altschuld, J. W., & Kim, Y. C. (2005). Emerging dimensions of university-
based evaluator preparation programs . Manuscript in progress. Corvallis: Oregon State
University.
Fitzpatrick, J. L. The politics of evaluation: Who is the audience? Evaluation Review
13(6) (1989). 563578. http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0193841X8901300601
Fitzpatrick, J. L., Sanders, J. R., & Worthen, B. R. (2003). Program evaluation:
Alternative approaches and practical guidelines (3rd ed.) . Boston: Allyn & Bacon.
Greene, J. C, ed. , & Caracelli, V. J. (Eds.). (1997). Advances in mixed-method
evaluation: The challenges and benefits of integrating diverse paradigms . San
Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Holton, E. F., IIIBates, R. A.Naquin, S. S. Large-scale performance-driven training
needs assessment: A case study . Public Personnel Management 29 (2000). 249268.
Joint Committee on Standards for Educational Evaluation . (1994). The program
evaluation standards (2nd ed.) . Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
King, J. A.Stevahn, L.Ghere, G.Minnema, J. Toward a taxonomy of essential evaluator
competencies . American Journal of Evaluation 22 (2001). 229247.
SK Marketing
2006 SAGE Publications, Inc. All Rights Reserved. SAGE knowledge
Page 27 of 29 The Psychology Research Handbook: A Guide
for Graduate Students and Research Assistants:
Program Evaluation: Concepts and Perspectives
Kirkpatrick, D. L. Techniques for evaluating training programs . Journal of the American
Society for Training and Development 13 (1959). 332.
Kirkpatrick, D. L. (1998). Evaluating training programs: The four levels (2nd ed.) . San
Francisco: Berrett-Koehler.
Leviton, L. CHughes, E. F. X. Research on the utilization of evaluations:
A review and synthesis . Evaluation Review 5 (1981). 525548. http://
dx.doi.org/10.1177/0193841X8100500405
Mark, M. M.Henry, G. TJulnes, G. Toward an integrative framework for evaluation
practice . American Journal of Evaluation 20 (1999). 193212.
Mark, M. M., ed. , & Shotland, R. L. (Eds.). (1987). Multiple methods in program
evaluation (New Directions in Program Evaluation, Vol. 35) . San Francisco: Jossey-
Bass.
Mathison, S. (Ed.). (2004). Encyclopedia of evaluation . Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
http://dx.doi.org/10.4135/9781412950558
McGuire, M. (2002, October). Canadian Evaluation Society project in support of
advocacy and professional development: Literature review . Toronto: Zorzi.
McKillip, J. (1998). Needs analysis: Processes and techniques . In L. Bickman, ed. & D.
Rog (Eds.), Handbook of applied social research (pp. 261284) . Thousand Oaks, CA:
Sage.
Mertens, D. Training evaluators: Unique skills and knowledge . New Directions for
Program Evaluation 62 (1994). 1727. http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/ev.1673
Mertens, D. M. (1989). Creative ideas for teaching evaluation: Activities, assignments,
and resources (Evaluation in Education and Human Services Series) . New York:
Kluwer.
Rossi, P. H., Lipsey, M. W., & Freeman, H. E. (2004). Evaluation: A systematic
approach (7th ed.) . Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
SK Marketing
2006 SAGE Publications, Inc. All Rights Reserved. SAGE knowledge
Page 28 of 29 The Psychology Research Handbook: A Guide
for Graduate Students and Research Assistants:
Program Evaluation: Concepts and Perspectives
Scriven, M. (1991). Evaluation thesaurus (4th ed.) . Newbury Park, CA: Sage.
Scriven, M. The final synthesis . Evaluation Practice 15 (1994). 367382. http://
dx.doi.org/10.1016/0886-1633%2894%2990031-0
Scriven, M. Types of evaluation and evaluators . Evaluation Practice 17 (1996). 151
161. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S0886-1633%2896%2990020-3
Stevahn, L.King, J. A.Ghere, G.Minnema, J. Establishing essential competencies
for program evaluators . American Journal of Evaluation 26(1) (2005). 4359. http://
dx.doi.org/10.1177/1098214004273180
Stufflebeam, D. L. The relevance of the CIPP evaluation model for educational
accountability . Journal of Research and Development in Education 5(1) (1971). 1925.
Stufflebeam, D. L. An EEPA interview with Daniel L. Stufflebeam . Educational
Evaluation and Policy Analysis 4 (1980). 8590.
Stufflebeam, D. L. (2002). The CIPP model for evaluation . In T. Kellaghan, ed. & D.
L. Stufflebeam (Eds.), International handbook of educational evaluation . Dordrecht:
Kluwer.
Suchman, E. A. (1967). Evaluative research: Principles and practice in public service of
social action programs . New York: Russell Sage Foundation.
Tashakkori, A., ed. , & Teddlie, C. (Eds.). (2002). Handbook of mixed methods for the
social and behavioral sciences . Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
Wholey, J. S., ed. , Hatry, H. P., ed. , & Newcomer, K. E. (Eds.). (1994). Handbook of
accreditation standards for practical program evaluation . San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Witkin, B. R., & Altschuld, J. W. (1995). Planning and conducting needs assessments: A
practical guide . Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
Worthen, B. R., & Sanders, J. R. (Compilers). (1973). Educational evaluation: Theory
and practice . Worthington, OH: C. A. Jones.
SK Marketing
2006 SAGE Publications, Inc. All Rights Reserved. SAGE knowledge
Page 29 of 29 The Psychology Research Handbook: A Guide
for Graduate Students and Research Assistants:
Program Evaluation: Concepts and Perspectives
Worthen, B. R., & Sanders, J. R. (1987). Educational evaluation . New York: Longman.
Worthen, B. R., Sanders, J. R., & Fitzpatrick, J. L. (1997). Program evaluation:
Alternative approaches and guidelines (2nd ed.) . New York: Longman.
http://dx.doi.org/10.4135/9781412976626.n5