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Evaluation in Action

Evaluation in Action
Interviews With Expert Evaluators

July 2008 | 472 pages | SAGE Publications, Inc

Evaluation in Action: Interviews With Expert Evaluators is the first book to go behind the scenes of real evaluations to explore the issues faced—and the decisions made—by notable evaluators in the field. Drawing from the popular "Exemplars" section in the American Journal of Evaluation (AJE), the book's twelve interviews with evaluators illustrate a variety of evaluation practices in different settings and include commentary and analysis on what the interviews teach about evaluation practice.

Praise for Evaluation in Action

"Evaluation in Action: Interviews With Expert Evaluators is a "must" read for those who want to know how evaluations really take place."
Marvin C. Alkin, University of California, Los Angeles

"This book offers a rare opportunity to glimpse the assumptions, values, logic, and reasoning behind evaluator choices. It models the reflection required of good practice. The interviews are accessible and engaging, like being invited to a conversation over coffee—a tribute to the power of storytelling. They drew me in and made me want to join the discussion and ask even more questions. The section on cultural competence in evaluation is a particularly significant contribution to the knowledge base of our field.                                                                 
—Karen Kirkhart, Syracuse University, former President of American Evaluation Association

"This book is unique in the breadth of evaluation types and settings covered and the interview format provides a personal, in-depth picture of the evaluator's thinking. I'm excited about using it with my students."
—Katye M. Perry, Oklahoma State University, former Chair of the Topical Interest Group on Teaching of Evaluation

This book fills a major gap in evaluation literature. In addition to the cases, the introductory chapter is a masterful distillation of key issues in evaluation, while the last two chapters provide a concise analysis of the interaction of evaluation theory and practice.
—Leslie Cooksy, University of Delaware

"A fresh and insightful glimpse into the deliberations and choices made by practicing evaluators. The questions asked of the evaluators are right on target and give students of evaluation, whether they are in the classroom or on the job, solid guidance on navigating around the dilemmas that arise when dealing with stakeholders and with sticky ethical challenges. This text fills a need in training evaluators not met by current textboooks."
—Kathryn E. Newcomer, George Washington University


Chapter 1: Evaluation and Its Practice: Some Key Considerations and Choices
Part I: Traditional Evaluations with a Primary purpose of Judging Merit and Worth
Chapter 2: The Evaluation of GAIN: A Welfare-to-Work Program in California, An Interview with James A. Riccio
Chapter 3: Evaluation of the Natural Resources Leadership Program, 1995 through 1998, An Interview with Jennifer C. Greene
Chapter 4: The Evaluation of the Ft. Bragg and Stark County Systems of Care for Children and Adolescents, An Interview with Len Bickman
Part II: Evaluations with a Focus on Description
Chapter 5: The Evaluation of the Stanford Teacher Education Program (STEP), An Interview with David Fetterman
Chapter 6: The Evaluation of the Homeless Families Program, An Interview with Debra J. Rog
Chapter 7: The Council for School Performance: Performance Reports for Georgia Schools, An Interview with Gary T. Henry
Part III: Evaluations with an Emphasis on Program Planning and Organizational Development
Chapter 8: Evaluation of the Special Education Program at the Anoka-Hennepin School District, An Interview with Jean A. King
Chapter 9: Evaluation of the Work and Health Initiative with a Focus on Winning New Jobs, An Interview with Stewart I. Donaldson
Chapter 10: Developing an Evaluation System for the Corporate Education Development and Training (CEDT) Department at Sandia National Laboratories, An Interview with Hallie Preskill
Chapter 11: Evaluation of the Colorado Healthy Communities Initiative, An Interview with Ross Conner
Part IV: Evaluations Concerning Cultural Competence
Chapter 12: Evaluation of the Fun with Books Program, An Interview with Katrina Bledsoe
Chapter 13: Evaluation of Godfrey?s Children Center in Tanzania, An Interview with Allan Wallis and Victor Dukay
Part V: Analysis, Interpretations, and Conclusions
Chapter 14: Exemplars? Choices: What Do These Cases Tell Us About Practice?
Chapter 15: Analyzing the Practice of Evaluation: What Do these Cases Tell Us About Theory?
Appendix I: Other Categories for the Interviews
About the Authors

"A timely introduction to how evaluators go about the business of evaluation. Evaluation in Action will be useful for evaluators at all stages, experienced and new, and for students."

Carol J. Evans

"As one of the few collections of evaluator applied reasoning and practical insights, this volume is a useful resource for students, practitioners,and theorists/methodologists who want to better understand how evaluators think in practice and make decisions; how flow of workand events arising in the field shape the nature and use of evaluation theory, method, and practice."

Leigh M. Tolley and Nick L. Smith
Syracuse University
The Canadian Journal of Program Evaluation

My students really enjoyed this book. It made program evaluation come alive.

Dr Robbie Robichau
Institute for Public & Nonprofit Studies, Georgia Southern University
December 17, 2013

Versatile text for a variety of disciplines. Only criticism is font size not the easiest to read.

Miss Tracey Barnfather
Midwifery Division, Northampton University
February 15, 2013

This book is used in a prerequisite class and will be a secondary course text for this course. It is clear and flexible and provides a bridge between courses in our sequence.

Dr Paula Dawidowicz
School Of Education, Walden University
October 12, 2012

This text offers useful insight into the process and uses of evaluation.

Mrs Valerie Keating
Faculty of Health & Wellbeing, Sheffield Hallam University
November 10, 2009
Key features
  • Extended examples of how evaluation is actually practiced, the real pressures and choices evaluators face, the decisions they have to make, and a sense of how they make these decisions in the context of real-life evaluations.
  • A guiding matrix and discussion of the different ways in which the interviews may be grouped and read, which will help students and practitioners looking for more information and insight on particular issues.
  • Twelve interviews and cases chosen to represent (a) different settings (e.g., welfare reform, higher education, mental health, K-12 education, public health); (b) different types of evaluations (e.g., formative, summative, needs assessment, process, outcome); (c) different approaches (e.g., participatory, theory-based, research-oriented, decision-oriented); (d) different arenas (e.g., federal, regional, state, local); (e) and different levels of resources (large and small studies);
  • Following each interview are commentaries and analyses concerning what the interviews teach us about evaluation practice and ways to inform one's own practice as well as discussion questions that provoke the reader to consider the key issues of the interview and how one interview and experience may contrast with another.
  • Introductory and Summary chapters that cover the major types of evaluations and the lessons that emerge from the interviewee's experiences, all of which helps to firmly ground the information and issues presented in each interview.

For instructors

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