Evaluation vs. Research

1. While evaluation and research do overlap on many aspects, and can often be overgeneralized when being defined, it is important to understand that these two processes are very different. By intent evaluation concerns itself with informing particular stakeholders about programs or goals while research is looking to inform those “well beyond the stakeholders” in order to move forward with new learning and knowledge (Boulmetis & Dutmin, 2011, p. 171). By design and by purpose priorities it is often fairly obvious whether or not evaluation or research is being conducted. Research is often more concerned with cause-and-effect, whereas evaluation is designed so that “programs can change” (Boulmetis & Dutmin, 2011, p. 173). In research, the sample is important as it needs to be nonbiased and appropriately collected. However with evaluation, as it is concerned with a specific group or organization, by design will be a limited generalized sample.
Again a major difference between both processes is the audience. Evaluations are very much designed and implemented and shared with particular stakeholders for specific purposes, in fact, often the results are never shared beyond this group. However, research is shared via peer review and often published for others to learn from the research.
2. The Wikipedia article discusses the reasons behind conducting the evaluation as efficiency and effectiveness, it leaves out the possible purpose of impact. The entry targets the importance of stakeholders as the reason that many evaluations are started and also discusses the importance of engaging with stakeholders. I thought it was interesting that the entry also laid out the pros and cons of external versus internal evaluators which we discussed in our coursework as well. I thought something lacking from the entry was an outline of the major evaluation designs (e.g. goal-free model). Both our course work and the Wikipedia entry highlight the evaluation framework as stages requiring 1) needs assessment and 2) program planning and then the stages differ. I didn’t notice a specific Evaluator’s Program Description framework within the online entry article which was a major piece of our work so far this semester.
3. First off, I found it interesting that there is an Amercian Evaluation Association, I definitely have not run into very specific organization before. I appreciate that the organization offers a lot by way of connections to its members through groups and social media connections. I took the opportunity to search for evaluators for the District of Columbia and was amazed by a number of names and organizations that filtered for possible connections if I was looking for an evaluator. I took some time to review their mission and vision and was pleased to see they have quite the set of governing policies complete with a guidebook, end goals, and strategic plans. This reminds me of the course I took on Instructional Design and how fascinating it was that this was a whole new world of careers and job focus.

Reference

Boulmetis, J., & Dutwin, P. (2011). The ABCs of evaluation: Timeless techniques for program and project managers. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass

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