Evaluation: What Is It? Who Is It?

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Originally published in Contemporary Psychology: APA Review of Books, 1979, Vol 24(8), 662–663. Reviews the book, The Profession and Practice of Program Evaluation by Scarvia B. Anderson and Samuel Ball (1978). This book, written in a breezy style, discusses many of the current issues in the field of evaluation. The book has a number of minor flaws that should have been caught by the publisher. The reader can fully appreciate the views expressed by the panel, the authors list their names with a footnote that “we hope that it is not a violation of professional ethics to list these names here.” This is a weak defense after a 55-page section on ethics and values, since the purpose of professional ethics would seem to be to protect respondents. The list is certainly worth the price of the book. By widening the definition of evaluation to include just about anything that a quantitatively oriented person might do, from “needs assessment” to contributing to the understanding of basic processes, the authors dilute their discussion of the central issue in evaluation. The authors provide an excellent discussion of the problems and how they can be minimized in practice. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved)

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