Michael Szanyi on Research on Evaluation

Hi! My name is Michael Szanyi. I am a doctoral student at Claremont Graduate University.  I’ve been studying what areas practitioners think there needs to be more research on evaluation on, and I’d like to share a rad resource with you.

Rad Resource: Whenever I need inspiration to come up with a research on evaluation idea, I refer to Melvin Mark’s chapter “Building a Better Evidence Base for Evaluation Theory” in Fundamental Issues in Evaluation, edited by Nick Smith and Paul Brandon. I re-read this chapter every time I need to remind myself of what research on evaluation actually is and when I need to get my creative juices flowing.

I think this is a rad resource because:

  • Mark explains why research on evaluation is even necessary, citing both potential benefits and caveats to carrying out research on evaluation.
  • The chapter outlines 4 potential subjects of inquiry (context, activities, consequences, professional issues) that can spark ideas in those categories, subcategories, and entirely different areas all together.
  • The resource also describes 4 potential inquiry modes that you could use to actually carry out whatever ideas begin to emerge.
  • Particularly for my demographic, it helps those in graduate programs come up with potential research and dissertation topics.

Although research on evaluation is a contentious topic in some quarters of the evaluation community, this resource helps to remind me that research on evaluation can be useful. It can help to build a better evidence base upon which to conduct more efficient and effective evaluation practice.

This contribution is from the aea365 Daily Tips blog, by and for evaluators, from the American Evaluation Association. Please consider contributing – send a note of interest to aea365@eval.org.

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