Evaluation research can assess the value and effectiveness of interventions and innovations involving people. While this has often been on a grand scale, this book focuses on small-scale projects carried out by an individual or small group, typically lasting for weeks or at most a few months, at a local rather than national level. Using limited jargon and featuring integrated, real-world examples, this second edition offers a clear, accessible background to evaluation and prepares you to undertake your own small-scale evaluation research project. Key features include discussion of: • Different approaches to evaluation and how to choose between them • The advantages and disadvantages of randomized controlled trials (RCTs) • Realist evaluation and its increasing importance • The centrality of ethical and political issues • The influence and opportunity of the Internet Tightly focused on the realities of carrying out small-scale evaluation, Small-Scale Evaluation is a highly practical guide covering the needs of both social scientists and others without this background. Colin Robson is an Emeritus Professor in the School of Human & Health Sciences at the University of Huddersfield.

Evaluation: The What and The Why

What is evaluation?

Dictionary definitions refer to evaluation as assessing the value (or worth, or merit) of something. The main ‘somethings’ focused on in this book are innovations, interventions, services or projects which involve people. For example, they might be clients of a service, or taking part in an innovation or intervention of some kind.

As explained in the previous chapter, it is commonly referred to as program evaluation, where ‘program’ is a generic term referring to any of the activities covered above. So, rather than listing ‘innovations, interventions, projects, programs or services’ every time, and disliking the latinate ‘evaluand’ for the ‘something being evaluated’, I’ll stick with ‘program’ most of the time. Feel free to substitute whatever makes ...

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