I have a few thoughts about causation, which I will get to in a bit…first, though, I want to give my answers to the post last week.

I had listed the following and wondered if you thought they were a design, a method, or an approach. (I had also asked which of the 5Cs was being addressed–clarity or consistency.)  Here is what I think about the other question.

Case study is a method used when gathering qualitative data, that is, words as opposed to numbers.  Bob Stake, Robert Brinkerhoff, Robert Yin, and others have written extensively on this method.

Pretest-post test Control Group is (according to Campbell and Stanley, 1963) an example of  a true experimental design if a control group is used (pg. 8 and 13).  NOTE: if only one group is used (according to Campbell and Stanley, 1963), pretest-post test is considered a pre-experimental design (pg. 7 and 8); still it is a design.

Ethnography is a method used when gathering qualitative data often used in evaluation by those with training in anthropology.  David Fetterman is one such person who has written on this topic.

Interpretive is an adjective use to describe the approach one uses in an inquiry (whether that inquiry is as an evaluator or a researcher) and can be traced back to the sociologists Max Weber and Wilhem Dilthey in the later part of the 19th century.

Naturalistic is  an adjective use to describe an approach with a diversity of constructions and is a function of “…what the investigator does…” (Lincoln and Guba, 1985, pg.8).

Random Control Trials (RCT) is the “gold standard” of clinical trials, now being touted as the be all and end all of experimental design; its proponents advocate the use of RCT in all inquiry as it provides the investigator with evidence that X (not Y) caused Z.

Quasi-Experimental is a term used by Campbell and Stanley(1963) to denote a design where random assignment cannot be made for ethical or practical reasons be accomplished; this is often contrasted with random selection for survey purposes.

Qualitative is an adjective to describe an approach (as in qualitative inquiry), a type of data (as in qualitative data) or
methods (as in qualitative methods).  I think of qualitative as an approach which includes many methods.

Focus Group is a method of gathering qualitative data through the use of specific, structured interviews in the form of questions; it is also an adjective for defining the type of interviews or the type of study being conducted (Krueger & Casey, 2009, pg. 2)

Needs Assessment is method for determining priorities for the allocation of resources and actions to reduce the gap between the existing and the desired.

I’m sure there are other answers to the terms listed above; these are mine.  I’ve gotten one response (from Simon Hearn at BetterEvaluation).  If I get others, I’ll aggregate them and share them with you.  (Simon can check his answers against this post.

Now causation, and I pose another question:  If evaluation (remember the root word here is value) is determining if a program (intervention, policy, product, etc. ) made a difference, and determined the merit or worth (i.e., value) of that program (intervention, policy, product, etc.), how certain are you that your program (intervention, policy, program, etc.) caused the outcome?  Chris Lysy and Jane Davidson have developed several cartoons that address this topic.  They are worth the time to read them.

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