What Counts as Credible Evidence in Applied Research and Evaluation Practice?

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Overview

"The issue of what constitutes credible evidence isn't about to get resolved. And it isn't going away.This book explains why. The diverse perspectives presented are balanced, insightful, and critical for making up one's own mind about what counts as credible evidence. And, in the end, everyone must take a position. You simply can't engage in or use research and evaluation without deciding what counts as credible evidence. So read this book carefully, take a position, and enter the fray. "
—Michael Quinn Patton, Author of Utilization-Focused Evaluation, 4e

“I found this text to be very interesting and useful in capturing and presenting varying perspectives in the field. There are some very good points and considerations for students and practitioners in this book.”
—Michael Schooley, Centers for Disease Control

"Donaldson and colleagues have assembled an insightful and timely collection of papers on the complex issues regarding what constitutes credible evidence in evaluation. This important book offers readers the latest thinking on generating actionable evidence for policy and program decision-making from a wide variety of philosophical perspectives. The book is an indispensable resource for evaluation scholars and practitioners on this longstanding and central debate in the evaluation field. "
—Robin Lin Miller, Michigan State University

Placing into perspective the meaning of evidence for evaluation professionals and applied researchers, this text provides observations about the diversity and changing nature of credible evidence, Editors Stewart I. Donaldson, Christina A. Christie, and Melvin M. Mark include lessons from their own applied research and evaluation practice, and suggest ways in which practitioners might address the key issues and challenges of collecting credible evidence.

Key Features

  • Provides summaries of the strengths and weaknesses of the varied approaches to research and evaluation to give readers greater insight and guidance on how to select the appropriate methods for their work
  • Offers diverse definitions of “evidence” so that readers can evaluate the landscape of this highly debated research issue
  • Devotes a full chapter to the implications of evidence for contemporary applied research and evaluation practice

This book is appropriate for a wide range of courses, including Introduction to Evaluation Research, Research Methods, Evaluation Practice, Program valuation, Program Development and Evaluation, and evaluation coursesin Social Work, Education, Public Health, and Public Policy.

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Editorial Reviews

The Canadian Journal of Program Evaluation
"[The book's] design is a good one, containing papers for, papers against, and papers offering a synthesisand summing up. "— Kenneth Watson
The Canadian Journal of Program Evaluation - Kenneth Watson
"[The book's] design is a good one, containing papers for, papers against, and papers offering a synthesisand summing up."
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781412957076
  • Publisher: SAGE Publications
  • Publication date: 10/22/2008
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 288
  • Sales rank: 761,962
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Stewart I. Donaldson is Professor and Chair of Psychology, Director of the Institute of Organizational and Program Evaluation Research, and Dean of the School of Behavioral and Organizational Sciences at Claremont Graduate University. Dean Donaldson continues to develop and lead one of the most extensive and rigorous graduate programs specializing in applied psychological and evaluation science. He has taught numerous university courses, professional development workshops, and has mentored and coached more than 100 graduate students and working professionals during the past two decades. Dr. Donaldson has also provided organizational consulting, applied research, or program evaluation services to more than 100 different organizations. He has been Principal Investigator on more than 30 extramural grants and contracts to support research, evaluations, scholarship, and graduate students at Claremont Graduate University. Dr. Donaldson serves on the Editorial Boards of the American Journal of Evaluation, New Directions for Evaluation, and the Journal of Multidisciplinary Evaluation; is co-founder and leads the Southern California Evaluation Association; and served as Co-Chair of the Theory-Driven Evaluation and Program Theory Topical Interest Group of the American Evaluation Association for 8 years. He has authored or co-authored more than 200 evaluation reports, scientific journal articles, and chapters.

Christina A. Christie is a Professor and Head of the Social Research Methodology Division in the Graduate School of Education and Information Studies at University of California, Los Angeles. Christie specializes in educational and social policy and program evaluation. Her research focuses on the factors and conditions that influence evaluation practice in an effort to strengthen our understanding of evaluation as a method for facilitating social change. She has published extensively and her work appears in journals such American Journal of Evaluation, Children and Youth Services Review, Evaluation and Program Planning, Studies in Educational Evaluation and Teachers College Record. Christie has served on the board of the American Evaluation Association (AEA) and is the former Chair of the Theories of Evaluation Division and the Research on Evaluation Division of AEA. Currently, she is an Associate Editor for the American Journal of Evaluation.

Melvin M. Mark is Professor and Head of Psychology at Penn State University. A past president of the American Evaluation Association, he has also served as Editor of the American Journal of Evaluation where he is now Editor Emeritus. Dr. Mark’s interests include the theory, methodology, practice, and profession of program and policy evaluation. He has been involved in evaluations in a number of areas, including prevention programs, federal personnel policies, and various educational interventions including STEM program evaluation. Among his books are Evaluation: An integrated framework for understanding, guiding, and improving policies and programs (Jossey-Bass, 2000; with Gary Henry and George Julnes) and the recent SAGE Handbook of Evaluation (Sage, 2006; edited with Ian Shaw and Jennifer Greene), as well as forthcoming books Evaluation in action: Interviews with expert evaluators (Sage; with Jody Fitzpatrick and Tina Christie) and Social Psychology and Evaluation (Guilford; with Stewart Donaldson and Bernadette Campbell).

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Table of Contents

Preface
Acknowledgments
About the Editors
About the Contributors
PART I. INTRODUCTION
1. In Search of the Blueprint for an Evidence-Based Global Society, by Stewart I. Donaldson
2. Social Inquiry Paradigms as a Frame for the Debate on Credible Evidence, by Christina A. Christie and Dreolin Fleischer
PART II. EXPERIMENTAL APPROACHES AS THE ROUTE TO CREDIBLE EVIDENCE
3. When Getting It Right Matters: The Case for High-Quality Policy and Program Impact Evaluations, by Gary T. Henry
4. Randomized Control Trials: A Gold Standard With Feet of Clay? by Leonard Bickman and Stephanie M. Reich
5. What Is Credible Evidence in Education? The Role of the What Works Clearinghouse in Informing the Process, by Russell Gersten and John Hitchcock
6. Evaluation Methods for Producing Actionable Evidence: Contextual Influences on Adequacy and Appropriateness of Method Choice, by George Julnes and Debra Rog
PART III. NONEXPERIMENTAL APPROACHES FOR BUILDING CREDIBLE EVIDENCE
7. Demythologizing Causation and Evidence, by Michael Scriven
8. Evidence as "Proof" and Evidence as "Inkling," by Jennifer C. Greene
9. Reasoning With Rigor and Probity: Ethical Premises for Credible Evidence, by Sharon F. Rallis
10. Seeing Is Believing: The Credibility of Image-Based Research and Evaluation, by Sandra Mathison
11. Toward a Practical Theory of Evidence for Evaluation, by Thomas A. Schwandt
PART IV. CONCLUSIONS
12. Credible Evidence: Changing the Terms of the Debate, by Melvin M. Mark
Epilogue: A Practitioner’s Guide for Gathering Credible Evidence in the Evidenced–Based Global Society, by Stewart I. Donaldson
Author Index
Subject Index

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