You are here

Evaluation Methodology Basics

Evaluation Methodology Basics
The Nuts and Bolts of Sound Evaluation

February 2005 | 280 pages | SAGE Publications, Inc
This book introduces evaluation by focusing on the main kinds of `big picture' questions that evaluations usually need to answer, and how the nature of such questions are linked to evaluation methodology choices. The author: shows how to identify the right criteria for your evaluation; discusses how to objectively figure out which criteria are more important than the others; and, delves into how to combine a mix of qualitative and quantitative data with `relevant values' (such as needs) to draw explicitly evaluative conclusions.
What is Evaluation?
Basic Definitions

A Note About Fitting Evaluation Approach to Purpose

The Steps Involved

The Ingredients of a Good Evaluation

Identifying the Evaluand

Additional Readings


Defining the Purpose of the Evaluation
Evaluations for Determining Overall Quality or Value

Evaluations for Finding Areas for Improvement

Questions About Absolute vs. Relative Quality/Value

Summary and Final Comments

Additional Readings


Identifying Evaluative Criteria
Why Not Just Use Goals?

Identifying Criteria: Basic Concepts and Tools

Conducting a Needs Assessment

Identifying Other Relevant Criteria

Additional Readings


Organizing the Criteria & Identifying Potential Sources of Evidence
The Importance of Choosing Multiple Sources of Quality Evidence

The Process Evaluation Checkpoint

The Outcome Evaluation Checkpoint

The Comparative Cost-Effectiveness Checkpoint

The Exportability Checkpoint

Additional Readings


Dealing With the Causation Issue
Certainty about causation

Inferring causation: Basic principles

Inferring causation: Seven strategies

Choosing a blend of methods to address the causation issue

Additional Readings


"Values" in Evaluation
The Controversy

The Three Types of Subjectivity

The Tensions Between Subjectivism and Common Sense

Where do the "Values" in an Evaluation Come From?

Additional Readings


Determining Importance
Determining Importance: What and Why

Determining Importance: Six Strategies

Additional Readings


The Merit Determination Step
Determining Merit: What and Why

Using Rubrics for Determining "Absolute" Merit

Using Rubrics for Determining "Relative" Merit

Making practical use of merit determination rubrics

Additional Readings


Synthesis Methodology
Synthesis: What and Why

The Role of Costs and Comparisons in Synthesis

Synthesizing for "Grading"

Synthesizing for "Ranking"

Additional Readings


Putting it All Together
The KEC Preliminary Checkpoints

The KEC Foundations Checkpoints

The KEC Subevaluations Checkpoints

The KEC Conclusions Checkpoints

Additional Readings

The five criteria for evaluating evaluations

Key points to remember in meta-evaluation

Other options for conducting a meta-evaluation

Formative meta-evaluation

Should I use meta-evaluation myself?

Additional Readings


Answers to Selected Exercises
Sample Exam Questions
Tips for students answering these exam questions

The questions

A rubric for grading assignment and exam answers

Suggested answers to practice exam questions


“Amidst the wash of methods books available to evaluators, Davidson’s book provides powerful techniques for asking and answering the important foundational questions in any program evaluation.”

Doug Leigh
Pepperdine University

“This is a very well written book that offers a unique perspective on long-practiced evaluation techniques and presents several new, potentially very useful, techniques that return “valuation” to the evaluation process.”

Greg Roberts
University of Texas, Austin

"What is evaluation-specific logic and methodology?  This book answers that question in a way that is persuasive, accessible, and understandable.  It presents a set of principles and procedures to guide the task of blending descriptive data with relevant values to draw explicitly evaluative conclusions. The book makes a significant contribution to positioning evaluation as a unique and special field of inquiry and judgment."

Michael Quinn Patton
Union Institute and University

"Evaluation Methodology Basics is yet another excellent book from Sage. This would be a good book to use for a graduate-level course in evaluation techniques or as a template for anyone who is new to the techniques of program evaluation."

Annette M. Matthews
Psychiatric Services, Volume 57, Issues 10

"The text is not only a great introduction for novices, but a toolbox with new perspectives for conducting sound evaluation that integrates values with facts into evaluative conclusions. As such Evaluation Methodology Basics should be on every evaluator's shelf."

Daniela Schroeter
Canadian Journal of Evaluation

"I welcome this student-friendly text to complement my favorite checklists.  This text develops the core checklist framework to provide evaluation methodology basics for, presumably mainly, introductory courses on program evaluation."

Colin Sharp
Evaluation Journal of Australasia

Well written. Easy to follow and understand. Very informative.

Dr Kimberly Harris
Human Development and Services, North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University
March 9, 2014

The text provides practical steps for applying the theory of performance and program evalution.

Mr Cordell Riley
Van Loan School of Graduate & Professional Studies , Endicott College (Bermuda Program)
October 9, 2011

For instructors

Purchasing options

Please select a format:

ISBN: 9780761929307
ISBN: 9780761929291

SAGE Research Methods is a research methods tool created to help researchers, faculty and students with their research projects. SAGE Research Methods links over 175,000 pages of SAGE’s renowned book, journal and reference content with truly advanced search and discovery tools. Researchers can explore methods concepts to help them design research projects, understand particular methods or identify a new method, conduct their research, and write up their findings. Since SAGE Research Methods focuses on methodology rather than disciplines, it can be used across the social sciences, health sciences, and more.

With SAGE Research Methods, researchers can explore their chosen method across the depth and breadth of content, expanding or refining their search as needed; read online, print, or email full-text content; utilize suggested related methods and links to related authors from SAGE Research Methods' robust library and unique features; and even share their own collections of content through Methods Lists. SAGE Research Methods contains content from over 720 books, dictionaries, encyclopedias, and handbooks, the entire “Little Green Book,” and "Little Blue Book” series, two Major Works collating a selection of journal articles, and specially commissioned videos.