When Elliot Eisner eliott eisner died in January, I wrote a post on his work as I understood it.

I may have mentioned naturalistic models; if not I needed to label them as such.

Today, I’ll talk some more about those models.

These models are often described as qualitative. Egon Guba egon guba (who died in 2008) and Yvonna Lincoln yvonna lincoln (distinguished professor of higher education at Texas A&M University) talk about qualitative inquiry in their 1981 book, Effective Evaluation (it has a long subtitle–here is the cover)effective evaluation. They indicate that there are two factors on which constraints can be imposed: 1) antecedent variables and 2) possible outcomes, with the first impinging on the evaluation at its outset and the second referring to the possible consequences of the program. They propose a 2×2 figure to contrast between naturalistic inquiry and scientific inquiry depending on the constraints.

Besides Eisner’s model, Robert Stake robert stakeand David Fetterman Fetterman have developed models that fit this model. Stake’s model is called responsive evaluation and Fetterman talks about ethnographic evaluation. Stake’s work is described in Standards-Based & Responsive Evaluation (2004) Stake-responsive evaluation.  Fetterman has a volume called Ethnography: Step-by-Step (2010) ethnography step-by-step.

Stake contended that evaluators needed to be more responsive to the issues associated with the program and in being responsive, measurement precision would be decreased. He argued that an evaluation (and he is talking about educational program evaluation) would be responsive if it “oreints more directly to program activities than to program intents; responds to audience requirements for information and if the different value perspectives present are referred to in reporting the success and failure of the program” (as cited in Popham, 1993, pg. 42). He indicates that human instruments (observers and judges) will be the data gathering approaches.  Stake views responsive evaluation to be “informal, flexible, subjective, and based on evolving audience concerns” (Popham, 1993, pg. 43).  He indicates that this approach is based on anthropology as opposed to psychology.

More on Fetterman’s ethnography model later.


Fetterman, D. M. (2010). Ethnography step-by-step. Applied Social Research Methods Series, 17. Los Angeles, CA: Sage Publications.

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

Stake, R. E. (1975). Evaluating the arts in education: a responsive approach. Columbus, OH: Charles E. Merrill.

Stake, R. E. (2004). Standards-based & responsive evaluation. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.





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