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Program Evaluation Theory and Practice

This engaging text takes an evenhanded approach to major theoretical paradigms in evaluation and builds a bridge from them to evaluation practice. Featuring helpful checklists, procedural steps, provocative questions that invite readers to explore their own theoretical assumptions, and practical exercises, the book provides concrete guidance for conducting large- and small-scale evaluations. Numerous sample studies -- many with reflective commentary from the evaluators -- reveal the process through which an evaluator incorporates a paradigm into an actual research project. The book shows how theory informs methodological choices (the specifics of planning, implementing, and using evaluations). It offers balanced coverage of quantitative, qualitative, and mixed methods approaches. Useful pedagogical features include: examples of large- and small-scale evaluations from multiple disciplines beginning-of-chapter reflection questions that set the stage for the material covered "extending your thinking" questions and practical activities that help readers apply particular theoretical paradigms in their own evaluation projects relevant Web links, including pathways to more details about sampling, data collection, and analysis boxes offering a closer look at key evaluation concepts and additional studies checklists for readers to determine if they have followed recommended practice a companion website with resources for further learning.
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Table of Contents

I. The Landscape of Evaluation1. Introduction to Evaluation: Defining Terms and Ethical Considerations2. Framing Evaluation: Paradigms, Branches, and TheoriesII. Historical and Contemporary Evaluation Paradigms, Branches, Theories, and Approaches3. The Postpositivist Paradigm and the Methods Branch4. The Pragmatic Paradigm and the Use Branch5. The Constructivist Paradigm and the Values Branch6. The Transformative Paradigm and the Social Justice BranchIII. Planning Evaluations7. Working with Stakeholders: Establishing the Context and the Evaluand8. Evaluation Purposes and Questions 9. Evaluation Designs 10. Data Collection Strategies and Indicators 11. Stakeholders, Participants, and Sampling12. Data Analysis and Interpretation IV. Implementation in Evaluation13. Communication and Utilization of Findings 14. Meta-Evaluation and Project Management 15. Perennial and Emerging Issues in EvaluationGlossary

About the Author

Donna M. Mertens and Amy T. Wilson, both at the Department of Educational Foundations and Research, Gallaudet University, Washington, DC, USA


"This text provides a comprehensive, thorough presentation of program evaluation as an enterprise with a rich history, diverse perspectives, and widely varied applications. Among the best features of this text is the consistent use of well-conceived questions to transition readers' thinking between chapters and constantly challenge them to consider multiple perspectives. The text strikes a good balance between epistemological and theoretical understanding and practical applications." - Steven R. Rogg, Lesson Study Alliance, Illinois, USA "A refreshing feature of this text is its coverage of philosophical perspectives and their relationship to evaluation approaches. The book makes an important contribution in helping readers understand their own views of evaluation and how paradigms shape the evolution of evaluation theory. The organization of evaluation paradigms into four branches -- the methods, use, values, and social justice branches -- offers a useful analytic lens that accurately represents current directions in the field." - Linda B. Schrader, Florida State University, USA

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