Last week, I started a discussion on inappropriate evaluations. I was using the Fitzpatrick , Sanders , and Worthen text for the discussion (Program Evaluation: Alternative approaches and practical guidelines, 2011. See here.) There were three other examples given in that text which were:
- Evaluation cannot yield useful, valid information;
- Type of evaluation is premature for the stage of the program; and
- Propriety of evaluation is doubtful.
I will cover them today.
First, if the evaluation doesn’t (or isn’t likely to) produce relevant information, don’t do it. If factors like inadequate resources–personnel, funding, time, lack of administrative support, impossible evaluation tasks, or inaccessible data (which are typically outside the evaluator’s control), give it a pass as all of these factors make the likelihood that the evaluation will yield useful, valid information slim. Fitzpatrick, Sanders, and Worthen say, “A bad evaluation is worse than none at all…”.
Then consider the type of evaluation that is requested. Should you do a formative, a summative, or a developmental evaluation? The tryout phase of a program typically demands a formative evaluation and not a summative evaluations despite the need to demonstrate impact. You may not demonstrate an effect at all because of timing. Consider running the program for a while (more than once or twice in a month). Decide if you are going to use the results for only programmatic improvement or for programmatic improvement AND impact.
Finally consider if the propriety of the evaluation is worthwhile. Propriety is the third standard in the Joint Committee Standards . Propriety helps establish evaluation quality by protecting the rights of those involved in the evaluation–the target audience, the evaluators, program staff, and other stakeholders. If you haven’t read the Standards, I recommend that you do.
New Topic (and timely): Comments.
It has been a while since I’ve commented on any feedback I get in the form of comments on blog posts. I read everyone. I get them both here as I write and as an email. Sometimes they are in a language I don’t read or understand and, unfortunately, the on-line translators don’t always make sense. Sometimes they are encouraging comments (keep writing; keep blogging; thank you; etc.). Sometimes there are substantive comments that lead me to think about things evaluation differently. Regardless of what the message is: THANK YOU! For commenting. Remember, I read each one.