Program Evaluation: Methods and Case Studies

Program Evaluation: Methods and Case Studies

by Emil Posavac


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780205003495
Publisher: Taylor & Francis
Publication date: 05/13/2015
Edition description: Revised
Pages: 336
Product dimensions: 6.50(w) x 1.50(h) x 9.50(d)

About the Author

Emil J. Posavac is Professor Emeritus of Psychology at Loyola University of Chicago where he served as director of the Applied Social Psychology Graduate Program and chairman of the Psychology Department. He has published over sixty papers and chapters, edited or co-edited six volumes on program evaluation and applied social psychology, and written numerous evaluation reports for health care and educational institutions. Since retirement he has taught at the University of Rochester (Simon Graduate School of Business), Rochester Institute of Technology, and Trevecca Nazarene University.

Table of Contents

1. Program Evaluation: An Overview 2. Planning an Evaluation 3. Developing and Using a Theory of the Program 4. Developing Measures of Implementation and Outcomes 5. Ethics in Program Evaluation 6. The Assessment of Need 7. Monitoring the Implementation and Operation of Programs 8. Qualitative Evaluation Methods 9. Outcome Evaluations with One Group 10. Quasi-Experimental Approaches to Outcome Evaluation 11. Using Experiments to Evaluate Programs 12. Analyses of Costs and Outcomes 13. Evaluation Reports: Interpreting and Communicating Findings


Beginning with the first edition, we sought to present program evaluation as an accessible activity that people do routinely because they want to know how well they are carrying out their professional responsibilities. Evaluation was a new and rather threatening idea not too long ago. Initially it was viewed with skepticism, even hostility; sometimes it still is. We tried to show, first, that evaluations are performed for many good reasons other than to root out sloth, incompetence, and malpractice; second, that organized efforts to provide human services (that is, programs) can be evaluated; and, third, that evaluations conducted cooperatively can serve to improve programs and, thus, the quality of life.

To communicate those ideas, we included many illustrations based on our experiences, the experiences of our students, and published material. The Case Studies and Evaluator Profiles are included to show that there really are program evaluators conducting evaluations in private service agencies, foundations, universities, and federal, state, and local governments. Sometimes the abstract material in textbooks does not do enough to help readers visualize the real people who use the skills described in the book. We hope that these short descriptions help students to see program evaluation as a field that they might consider for themselves. The profiles also reveal the range of disciplines represented in the evaluation community.

Another reason to tie the concepts into specific settings is because program evaluation is still not a household word even though the daily newspapers of any large city refer to many efforts to evaluate services—Are the schools teaching well?Are crimes being solved? Are the homeless cared for? Will the latest change in interest rates have the desired effect on the economy? These activities are seldom called "program evaluations," but they are. We trust that after reading this text, you will appreciate the wide range of activities that are part of the evaluation effort.

This is an introductory book. Program evaluations can be quite informal when done with a small program offered at a single site or very ambitious when carried out to learn about a federal policy with participants in every state or province. We have concentrated on smaller projects because we feel that new evaluators can develop a better sense of the meaning of program evaluation when the scale is more manageable. We have written this text at an introductory level; however, in several chapters you will gain more if you have completed a statistics course. Other courses that would be helpful (but not essential) include courses in social science research methods and principles of psychological or educational measurement.

Soon after the first edition appeared, many federally-funded evaluation activities were curtailed. The era of big evaluations of large-scale demonstration projects came to an end. Many evaluators were apprehensive: Would organized, objective assessments of the effectiveness of governmentally funded social, medical, and educational programs end? Although federal support had given program evaluation a major boost in its infancy, decreased federal support did not reduce interest in evaluating programs. We believe that evaluating our organized activities is inherently helpful if done with an open mind for the purpose of adjusting our work in the light of the findings; consequently, evaluation survived federal cutbacks. In fact, it blossomed in ways that early evaluators had not foreseen. The degree of this blossoming is easy to see if one searches for "program evaluation" on the Internet.

Evaluation is as natural as a cook tasting vegetable soup and a basketball player watching to see if a hook shot goes into the basket. Of course, evaluation gets more complicated when we seek to evaluate the impact of efforts of a team rather than a solitary individual, when success is harder to define than getting the ball through the hoop, and when scarce resources are used to support a program.

We wish you well as you begin your study of program evaluation. We hope it will help you to participate actively and productively in the effort to develop a more effective, just, and healthy society—after all, that is what program evaluation is all about.

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