Evaluation models abound.

Models are a set of plans.

Educational evaluation models are plans that could “lead to more effective evaluations” (Popham, 1993, p. 23).  Popham, educational evaluation  Popham (1993) goes on to say that there was little or no thought given to a new evaluation model that would make it distinct from other models so that in sorting models into categories, the categories “fail to satisfy…without overlap” (p. 24).  Popham employs five categories:

  1. Goal-attainment models;
  2. Judgmental models emphasizing inputs;
  3. Judgmental models emphasizing outputs;
  4. Decision-facilitation models; and
  5. Naturalistic models

I want to acquaint you with one of the naturalistic models, the connoisseurship model.  (I hope y’all recognize the work of Guba and Lincoln in the evolution of naturalistic models; if not I have listed several sources below.)  Elliott Eisner  drew upon his experience as an art educator and used art criticism as the basis for this model.  His approach relies on educational connoisseurship and educational criticism.  Connoisseurship focuses on complex entities (think art, wine, chocolate); criticism is a form which “discerns the qualities of an event or object” (Popham, 1993, p. 43) and puts into words that which has been experienced.  This verbal presentation allows for those of us who do not posess the critic’s expertise can understand what was perceived.  Eisner advocated that design is all about relationships and relationships are necessary for the creative process and thinking about the creative process.  He proposed “that experienced experts, like critics of the arts, bring their expertise to bear on evaluating the quality of programs…” (Fitzpatrick, Sanders and Worthen, 2004).  He proposed an artistic paradigm (rather than a scientific one) as a supplement other forms of inquiry.  It is from this view that connoisseurship derives—connoisseurship is the art of appreciation; the relationships between/among the qualities of the evaluand. 

Elliot Eisner died January 10, 2014; he was 81. He was the Lee Jacks Professor of Education at Stanford Graduate School of Education.  He advanced the role of arts in education and used arts as models for improving educational practice in other fields.  His contribution to evaluation was significant.


Eisner, E. W. (1975). The perceptive eye:  Toward the reformation of educational evaluation.  Occasional Papers of the Stanford Evaluation Consortium.  Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.

Eisner, E. W. (1991a). Taking a second look: Educational connoisseurship revisited.  In Evaluation and education: At quarter century, ed. M. W. McLaughlin & D. C. Phillips.  Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Eisner, E. W. (1991b). The enlightened eye: Qualitative inquiry and the enhancement of educational practice.  New York: Macmillian.

Eisner, E. W., & Peshkin, A. (eds.) (1990).  Qualitative inquiry in education.  NY:Teachers College Press.

Fitzpatrick, J. L., Sanders, J. R., & Worthen, B. R. (2004). Program Evaluation: Alternative approaches and practical guidelines, 3rd ed. Boston, MA: Pearson

Guba, E. G., & Lincoln, Y. S. (1981). Effective evaluation: Improving the usefulness of evaluation results through responsive and naturalistic approaches.  San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Lincoln, Y. S. & Guba, E. G. (1985). Naturalistic Inquiry. Newbury Park, CA: Sage Publications.

Patton, M. Q. (2002).  Qualitative research & evaluation methods. 3rd ed. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

Popham, W. J. (1993). Educational evaluation. 3rd ed. Boston, MA: Allyn and Bacon.







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