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Evaluative Research

Evaluative Research: Principles and Practice in Public Service and Social Action Progr

Edward A. Suchman
Copyright Date: 1967
Published by: Russell Sage Foundation
Pages: 196
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  • Book Info
    Evaluative Research
    Book Description:

    Describes the techniques used to determine the extent to which social goals are being achieved, to locate the barriers to these goals, and to discover the unanticipated results of social actions. The book is divided into three main sections: the conceptual, methodological, and administrative aspects of evaluation.

    eISBN: 978-1-61044-517-7
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
    (pp. vii-viii)
    Leonard S. Cottrell Jr.

    In these days of large government programs intended to reduce poverty, develop communities, prevent delinquency and crime, control disease, and reconstruct cities, the predominant rhetoric is that of planning, pilot projects, experimental and demonstration programs—and evaluation. Those who seek to select for support the more promising plans and projects submitted to funding agencies have become habituated to the ritualistic inclusion in the proposal of a final section on Evaluation. In most cases this section consists of sometimes grandiose but usually vague statements of intent and procedure for assessing the impact of the proposed action. In some cases there is...

    (pp. ix-x)
    Edward A. Suchman
  5. CHAPTER I An Introduction to Evaluative Research
    (pp. 1-10)

    In recent years there has been a rapidly increasing emphasis upon the utilization of behavioral science concepts and methods for meeting social problems. Partly this is the result of a steady growth in the recognition that “one of the most appealing ideas of our century is the notion that science can be put to work to provide solutions to social problems,”¹ and partly it is a reflection of political circumstances favorable to social action programs. The commitment of first President Kennedy and then President Johnson to the development of “The Great Society” through planned social change has given both societal...

  6. CHAPTER II The Growth and Current Status of Evaluation
    (pp. 11-26)

    Man’s need to know is closely coupled with his wish to judge. The natural curiosity which leads man to ask the question “Why?” also underlies his drive to discover “Cui bono?” or “What good is it?” Concern with the good or evil consequences of man’s attempts to control his environment has marked the history of new discoveries and their application. Evaluation of utility is intrinsically interwoven with the development of knowledge. While the ideal norms of science may stress objectivity and a disinterest in practical significance, the conduct and support of scientific research only rarely escapes the more operational norms...

  7. CHAPTER III Concepts and Principles of Evaluation
    (pp. 27-50)

    Currently, the term “evaluation,” despite its widespread popularity, is poorly defined and often improperly used. For the most part, its meaning is taken for granted and very few attempts have been made, even by those most concerned, to formulate any conceptually rigorous definition or to analyze the main principles of its use. The result is wide disagreement, with many other tenns such as “assessment,” “appraisal,” and “judgment” often being used interchangeably with evaluation.

    More serious than this looseness of definition is the absence of any clear-cut understanding of the basic requirements of evaluative research. One finds a wide Yariety of...

  8. CHAPTER IV Types and Categories of Evaluation
    (pp. 51-73)

    Most programs have multiple objectives. Close examination of these objectives will usually reveal that they consist of a mixture of different dimensions—time, place, method, generality. This multiplicity of objectives is often a source of unproductive disagreement among program personnel and constitutes a major barrier to successful evaluation. As described in a report by a national conference on evaluation, “Where the sections disagreed especially was in the use of time-qualifying adjectives applied to the objectives, such as long-tenn or short-tenn objectives. In consulting with these sections, it was obvious that there is a definite lack of unifonnity in our terminology....

  9. CHAPTER V The Conduct of Evaluative Research
    (pp. 74-90)

    By and large, evaluation studies of action or service programs are notably deficient in both research design and execution. Examples of evaluative research which satisfy even the most elementary tenets of the scientific method are few and far between. An attempt by an Evaluation Planning Group in Mental Health to approach evaluation as an experiment in social change concluded thatnosituations could be found which satisfied the three basic elements of a “meaningful evaluation of mental health demonstrations”:

    1. The existence of a presumption that a particular set of activities reduces the frequency of a specific group of morbidities.


  10. CHAPTER VI The Evaluative Research Design
    (pp. 91-114)

    In the research process, the statement of the problem including the formulation of hypotheses is followed by the laying out of a study design for the collection and analysis of data bearing upon these hypotheses. This design indicates the general approach to be used, for example, experimental, field survey, clinical observation, and specifies the actual procedures for selecting the population to be studied, for administering the research instruments or tests, for determining the reliability and validity of the measurements made, and for analyzing the data so as to accept, reject, or qualify the hypotheses being studied.

    This process applies to...

  11. CHAPTER VII The Measurement of Effects
    (pp. 115-131)

    Our conceptual analysis of the meaning of the dependent or effect variable in evaluative research reinforces the basic point made in Chapter IV, Types and Categories of Evaluation, that the measurement of the effects of a program requires specification according to four major categories of variables: (1) component parts or processes of the program; (2) specific population or target groups reached; (3) situational conditions within which the program occurs; and (4) differential effects of the program.¹ The methodological problems involved in providing for the collection of data on the first three aspects have been discussed in terms of the isolation...

  12. CHAPTER VIII Evaluation and Program Administration
    (pp. 132-150)

    Evaluation is a form of programmatic activity in two major respects. First, the purpose of an evaluation is usually applied—its main objective is to increase the effectiveness of program administration. Second, the conduct of an evaluation study itself constitutes a form of program activity—the planning and execution of evaluation studies requires administrative resources. We might call the former evaluationinadministration, while the latter could be classmed as the administrationofevaluation.

    Evaluation as an aspect of program administration becomes an essential part of the entire administrative process related to program planning, development, and operation. In fact, as...

  13. CHAPTER IX The Administration of Evaluation Studies
    (pp. 151-168)

    So far we have been concerned mainly with the ways in which evaluative research relates to the administrative process—what we have called evaluationinadministration. We now turn our attention to those administrative factors which affect the objectives, design, execution, and utilization of evaluation studies—or the administrationofevaluative research.

    To begin with, it is important to note that research itself requires administration. A research project is a form of social activity encompassing a number of highly significant interpersonal relationships between and among research workers, program personnel, and subjects. As Sjoberg has maintained, science itself has strong normative...

  14. CHAPTER X The Social Experiment and the Future of Evaluative Research
    (pp. 169-178)

    The study of induced social change has long been an area of major interest among social scientists. Economists have attempted to regulate the “ups and downs” of economic systems through various fiscal and monetary controls. Sociologists may be found in almost all types of public and private organizations devoted to meeting a wide variety of social problems. Psychologists have attempted to influence human behavior in almost all social institutions from the school to the market place. Anthropologists have applied their knowledge of cultural factors to overcome resistance to innovation in the underdeveloped parts of the world. Political scientists are increasingly...

  15. INDEX
    (pp. 179-186)