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Stewart Donaldson on Honoring Professor Michael Scriven’s Contributions to Evaluation

My name is Stewart Donaldson, and I am Dean, Professor, and Director of the Institute of Organizational and Program Evaluation Research at Claremont Graduate University. I am also the convener of the annual summer professional development series in evaluation and applied research methods at Claremont Graduate University.

Rad resources: It’s rather difficult to think about the world of evaluation without Claremont Graduate University Professor Michael Scriven’s influence. Through his dedication and hard work, he has given us a philosophical grounding in the logic of evaluation, continuously pushed our thinking about unintended consequences of programs and interventions, offered us a Goal-Free evaluation approach, pioneered the ideas of formative and summative evaluation, helped us think about evaluation as a transdiscipline, developed a series of valuable evaluation checklists to help practitioners do their work, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg! These contributions are housed in several locations, such as:

  • The Evaluation Thesaurus, 4th edition: The Evaluation Thesaurus is a must-have for every evaluator. Arranged alphabetically, this incredible work provides detailed definitions and descriptions for the terms we use as we conduct evaluation work.
  • Michael Scriven’s webpage: This webpage is set up to house recent editions of some of Michael’s most influential works. For example, there is a checklist for conducting meta-evaluations (v. 2.11.11), a checklist for expanding upon Donald Kirkpatrick’s criteria for evaluating training programs (v. 11.20.10), and a paper-in-progress on the revolutions in evaluation. As Michael mentions, he is open to feedback, and an email address is available on the website itself.
  • The Evaluation Center’s Checklist Site: This website hosts many checklists on different topics (e.g. evaluation models, meta-evaluation, etc) that have been developed by Michael and his colleagues at Western Michigan.

Hot Tip: As we look towards the future of evaluation, it is important to honor those that have made the field what it is today. This August, we all have an unprecedented opportunity to do this. As a way of honoring Michael and his many contributions to evaluation, I invite you to spend some time reflecting and writing about how Michael has influenced your ideas and work. Perhaps you were his student in a workshop or class. Perhaps you are his colleague, friend, or thankful acquaintance. Perhaps he inspired you or challenged you, or did both at the same time!

Call for your participation: Please send your reflections to by August 10, 2011. They will be compiled and presented to Michael at a Symposium and Dinner on August 20th honoring his career.

Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.



  • Mohamad Hasan Mohaqeq Moein · August 9, 2011 at 8:28 am

    Woe! Thanks John! But I must say where loyal and punctual evaluators are?


  • John LaVelle · August 8, 2011 at 1:25 pm

    I think many of us have been influenced by Professor Michael Scriven over the years.

    My story is this: I was auditing Michael’s course “The Evaluation of Training” several years ago, and I remember it was a very influential course. He linked together many major concepts of evaluation and applied them to evaluating training interventions. The paper I wrote in this course eventually formed the skeleton of my dissertation project, and gave me a strong framework from which I could build my project. The most recent iteration of Michael’s framework is available at:

    Thank you sir, for everything you’ve done for society, for our profession, our organizations, and for pushing our thinking forward.


  • Mohamad Hasan Mohaqeq Moein · July 7, 2011 at 9:18 am

    Long live Scriven!


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