Evaluation and Research

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rThe CANADIENNE 'ÉVALUATION DE PROGRAMME LA REVUECanadian Journal ofDProgram Evaluation Vol. 18 No. 2 Pages 1–31 ISSN 0834-1516 Copyright © 2003 Canadian Evaluation Society

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EVALUATION AND RESEARCH: DIFFERENCES AND SIMILARITIES
Miri Levin-Rozalis Department of Education Ben-Gurion University of the Negev Beer-Sheva, Israel Abstract:

This article discusses the similarities and dissimilarities between research and evaluation, which are two clearly differentiated disciplines despite their similarity in concepts, tools, and methods. The purpose of research is to enlarge the body of scientific knowledge; the purpose of evaluation is to provide useful feedback to program managers and entrepreneurs. In this article I examine the central characteristics of research and evaluation (validity, generalization, theory and hypotheses, relevance, and causality) and the different roles those characteristics play in each. I discuss the different functions of evaluation and research, and propose some criteria for fulfilling the different demands of evaluation and research. And I argue that the constant pressure to examine evaluations by the criteria of research prevents evaluation from becoming an independent discipline and delays the development of standards and criteria that are useful to evaluators. Le présent article discute des similarités et des différences entre la recherche et l’évaluation — deux disciplines clairement distinctes malgré la similarité de leurs concepts, outils et méthodes. La recherche a pour but d’enrichir le bloc de connaissances scientifiques, et l’évaluation a pour but de fournir une rétroaction utile aux gestionnaires de programmes et aux entrepreneurs. Dans cet article, j’examine les principales caractéristiques (validité, généralisation, théorie et hypothèses, pertinence et causalité) et les différents rôles qu’elles jouent dans l’évaluation et la recherche. Je discute des différentes fonctions de l’évaluation et de la recherche, et je propose certains critères pour répondre aux différentes exigences de l’évaluation et la recherche. Je soutiens également que la contrainte constante d’examiner les évaluations à la lumière des critères de la recherche empêche l’évaluation de devenir une discipline indépendante et ralentit l’élaboration de normes et de critères utiles pour les évaluateurs.

Résumé:

Corresponding author: Miri Levin-Rozalis, Department of Education, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, P.O.Box 653, Beer-Sheva, Israel, 84105;

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THE PROBLEM

THE CANADIAN JOURNAL

OF

PROGRAM EVALUATION

There seems to be an ongoing question about the connections and differences between evaluation and research. After last year’s meetings of the European Evaluation Society and American Evaluation Association, I decided to take up the challenge and try to clarify some of the distinctions between these two activities. This article is strongly influenced by my view of evaluation as a service to interveners and a tool for improving the running of a project. In my fieldwork as an evaluator, I frequently encounter a lack of awareness about the essence of evaluation, in general, and the difference between evaluation and research, in particular. In the literature we often find “evaluation-research” used as a kind of hybrid term, but in many cases this is a product of miscegenation that is neither good research nor proper evaluation. In this article I will discuss the similarities of and the differences between evaluation and research. I propose to show that these are separate and distinct disciplines despite the similarities that arise from their sharing concepts, instruments, and methods in some cases. I claim that the difficulty in distinguishing between evaluation and research is at the expense of evaluation. The ongoing attempts to apply research criteria to evaluation put pressure on evaluators to relinquish the special attributes of evaluation; when this is done, the uniqueness and quality of...
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