An investigation into the nature of evaluation with particular reference to programmes of education and training.

  • P. W. Critten

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisPhD


A three-stage model of evaluation is proposed that helps an evaluator - be it the client, learner, designer/change agent or organization - derive the maximum value from a given programme of education and/or training. Firstly, it helps to put the programme in the widest possible perspective by enabling the evaluator to describe the resources made available as fully as possible. This is achieved through a framework within which the evaluator is encouraged to identify the particular model of learning on which the programme is based; the kind of media that are to be made available; the particular skills, style, roles the change agent offers; the kind of organizational context within which learning is to be realised. Such a 'full' description of the programme provides the basis for the second stage which enables the evaluator to focus on key issues embedded in the description which are the source of potential value. Six field studies are described which illustrate how values can be made explicit in this way by the formulation of different kinds of 'maps'. Five established schools of evaluation are reviewed. The conclusion is that most models of evaluation become too immersed in the collection and description of data of a particular kind (e.g. objectives, costs, systems) and do not enable the evaluator to use such data to focus on values which lie outside of such descriptions. But the realisation of value, it is suggested, requires a personal response to the picture that emerges from the focusing stage - this is the final stage, that of confrontation. The conclusion of the thesis is that this final stage is the very essence of evaluation which is capable of transforming not only the subject of the evaluation (the programme itself) but also the parties who stand to benefit from the evaluation (the client, learner, designer/change agent, organisation). Reference is made to the philosophy of 'Existentialism' to illustrate this theme. It is suggested that maximum value will be realised from a given programme through a process of 'collaborative evaluation' whereby client, learner and designer/change agent jointly confront the consequences of their separate focusing on value. The outcome of such a process is the realisation of the potential for learning in the process of evaluation itself which is capable of transforming the very organization of which client, learner and designer are members.
Date of Award1982
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Bath

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