Informing Federal Policies on Evaluation Methodology: Building the Evidence Base for Method Choice in Government Sponsored Evaluations. New Directions for Evaluation, Number 113. J-B PE Single Issue (Program) Evaluation

  • ID: 2214791
  • Book
  • 168 Pages
  • John Wiley and Sons Ltd
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One of the most divisive issues in the evaluation community has been the debate over which methodologies are to be considered adequate or commendable in addressing different evaluation questions in different settings. One form of this debate involved opposing camps of proponents of qualitative versus quantitative methods. A decade ago, there was some hope that the two sides of this debate, referred to as the paradigm war, were learning to respect each other. More recently, however, a federal agency priority for funding random assignment experimental studies has reignited the debate.

This volume provides a space for a productive dialogue that, by identifying areas of agreement but also fundamental differences, will promote a more durable working consensus on the circumstances in which some methods are to be preferred over others. The chapter authors and discussants make clear that there are different types of evidence with which to inform this dialogue, including empirical findings of the impact of method choice on evaluation outcomes, the evidence contained in the wisdom of practice, and the results of critical analyses of the broader social impacts of method choice. The editors build on these contributions to suggest pragmatic policies for federal agencies, promoting both context–appropriate method choice and the importance of managing portfolios of evaluative research that maintain desired distributions of methodologies.

This is the 113th volume of the Jossey–Bass quarterly report series New Directions for Evaluation, a publication of Jossey–Bass and the American Evaluation Association.

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George Julnes is associate professor of psychology at Utah State University. He has been a proponent of multiple methods for policy evaluation and is directing a random assignment evaluation of disability policy reform that makes extensive use of participant interviews and focus groups.

Debra J. Rog coauthored this chapter while serving as senior research assoociate with the center for Evaluation and Program Improvement and director of its Washington office. She is currently an associate area director with Westat and a vice president of the Rockville Institute.

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