Written by a master writer and evaluator, this text explores the many conceptual choices an evaluator needs to make–from attention to stakeholders, to weighing ethical risks, to writing a useful report–when doing an evaluation. The book begins with the main strategic choices an evaluator needs to make between approaches: quantitatively, by explicating criteria, needs, standards, and performances, or, qualitatively, by studying the activity, aspirations, problems, and accomplishments of the participants and critical observers. Throughout the book, the author presents evaluation as a series of choices for the reader. He leads audiences to consider whether they would prefer to remain independent as evaluators or to join with a staff and//or stakeholders connected to the program; to aid in development formatively or to assess the whole program summatively; to invest minimally or largely in trying out and validating data gathering procedures; and how much to support professional associations, their standards, and ethics. After reading the book, students will have a better appreciation of evaluation as a process that needs to be custom-fit to the situation.

Data Gathering

There is no single best plan for an evaluation, not even for an inquiry into a particular program, at a particular time, with a particular budget.

Lee Cronbach, 1982, p. 321

Criterial data gathering is different from interpretive data gathering. For criterial data gathering, we identify a number of criteria on which we want data—criteria such as trainee performance, program support ...

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