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Michele Trasilla # 77
http://www.jmde.com/ Theorists’ Theories of Evaluation
Journal of MultiDisciplinary Evaluation, Volume 6, Number 13
ISSN 1556-8180
February 2010
209
Theorists’ Theories of Evaluation: A
Conversation with Jennifer Greene
Michele Tarsilla
Western Michigan University
Background: Evaluation is sometimes viewed as
a professional practice rather than a discipline
corresponding to a well defined set of theories.
However, Shadish, Cook and Leviton (1991) were
able to demonstrate that evaluators’ work does
have theoretical foundations. In particular, the
authors identified five main elements for
evaluation theory and described the contribution
made to each of them by seven of the most
influential scholars in the field over the last five
decades.
Purpose: This paper intends to further the
discussion on evaluation theory, by examining
some of the contributions made Jennifer Greene,
one of the most influential figures in contemporary
evaluation. The paper mainly focuses on Greene’s
innovative ideas on each of the five main elements
of evaluation theory.
Setting: Not applicable.
Subjects: Not applicable.
Research Design: Not applicable.
Data Collection and Analysis: The paper is the
result of both a desk review of Jennifer Greene’s
most relevant work on bias, objectivity, and
advocacy in evaluation, and a phone interview
with her. For the sake of accuracy, the text of the
interview and the corresponding analysis were
submitted to Greene for review prior to
publication.
Findings: The author shows how Greene has
incorporated the five principles into her own work
and how this eventually influenced her practice.
Greene sorts evaluation approaches based on the
interests they serve and the values they promote.
However, she seems to have developed her theory
on valuing further over the years and today she
claims that evaluators should never privilege
anyone’s specific side in the course of their
assignments. Second, as knowledge is mediated by
evaluators’ perceptual frames, Greene believes that
an unfiltered (objective) view of the world is not
feasible. Third, she views evaluation as a force for
democratizing public conversations about
important issues. Fourth, although the evaluator’s
relationship with program staff could be collegial,
Greene believes that evaluators have no authority
or responsibility for the program design and
implementation. Fifth, Greene declares that
advocacy in evaluation is inevitable and, as a
result, evaluators should play a socially
enfranchising role today.
Conclusions: The debate on evaluation’s main
theoretical foundations is still relevant. For this
purpose, the author recommends that the five
main theories applied by this article to examine
Jennifer Greene’s work should be used more
systematically in the future to describe and analyze
evaluators’ practice. Such theoretical categories
would be especially beneficial in that they will
provide some common ground of understanding
among both practitioners and scholars on
evaluation concepts and practices which
experience has shown to be in constant evolution.
Keywords: evaluation theory, valuing, social
programming, knowledge, practice, use
__________________________________
* Tarsilla, M. (2010). Theorists’ Theories of Evaluation: A Conversation with Jennifer Greene. Journal of
MultiDisciplinary Evaluation, Volume 6, Number 13. 209-219.
http://www.jmde.com/ Theorists’ Theories of Evaluation
Journal of MultiDisciplinary Evaluation, Volume 6, Number 13
ISSN 1556-8180
February 2010
209
Theorists’ Theories of Evaluation: A
Conversation with Jennifer Greene
Michele Tarsilla
Western Michigan University
Background: Evaluation is sometimes viewed as
a professional practice rather than a discipline
corresponding to a well defined set of theories.
However, Shadish, Cook and Leviton (1991) were
able to demonstrate that evaluators’ work does
have theoretical foundations. In particular, the
authors identified five main elements for
evaluation theory and described the contribution
made to each of them by seven of the most
influential scholars in the field over the last five
decades.
Purpose: This paper intends to further the
discussion on evaluation theory, by examining
some of the contributions made Jennifer Greene,
one of the most influential figures in contemporary
evaluation. The paper mainly focuses on Greene’s
innovative ideas on each of the five main elements
of evaluation theory.
Setting: Not applicable.
Subjects: Not applicable.
Research Design: Not applicable.
Data Collection and Analysis: The paper is the
result of both a desk review of Jennifer Greene’s
most relevant work on bias, objectivity, and
advocacy in evaluation, and a phone interview
with her. For the sake of accuracy, the text of the
interview and the corresponding analysis were
submitted to Greene for review prior to
publication.
Findings: The author shows how Greene has
incorporated the five principles into her own work
and how this eventually influenced her practice.
Greene sorts evaluation approaches based on the
interests they serve and the values they promote.
However, she seems to have developed her theory
on valuing further over the years and today she
claims that evaluators should never privilege
anyone’s specific side in the course of their
assignments. Second, as knowledge is mediated by
evaluators’ perceptual frames, Greene believes that
an unfiltered (objective) view of the world is not
feasible. Third, she views evaluation as a force for
democratizing public conversations about
important issues. Fourth, although the evaluator’s
relationship with program staff could be collegial,
Greene believes that evaluators have no authority
or responsibility for the program design and
implementation. Fifth, Greene declares that
advocacy in evaluation is inevitable and, as a
result, evaluators should play a socially
enfranchising role today.
Conclusions: The debate on evaluation’s main
theoretical foundations is still relevant. For this
purpose, the author recommends that the five
main theories applied by this article to examine
Jennifer Greene’s work should be used more
systematically in the future to describe and analyze
evaluators’ practice. Such theoretical categories
would be especially beneficial in that they will
provide some common ground of understanding
among both practitioners and scholars on
evaluation concepts and practices which
experience has shown to be in constant evolution.
Keywords: evaluation theory, valuing, social
programming, knowledge, practice, use
__________________________________
*


النص الأصلي

Michele Trasilla # 77
http://www.jmde.com/ Theorists’ Theories of Evaluation
Journal of MultiDisciplinary Evaluation, Volume 6, Number 13
ISSN 1556-8180
February 2010
209
Theorists’ Theories of Evaluation: A
Conversation with Jennifer Greene
Michele Tarsilla
Western Michigan University
Background: Evaluation is sometimes viewed as
a professional practice rather than a discipline
corresponding to a well defined set of theories.
However, Shadish, Cook and Leviton (1991) were
able to demonstrate that evaluators’ work does
have theoretical foundations. In particular, the
authors identified five main elements for
evaluation theory and described the contribution
made to each of them by seven of the most
influential scholars in the field over the last five
decades.
Purpose: This paper intends to further the
discussion on evaluation theory, by examining
some of the contributions made Jennifer Greene,
one of the most influential figures in contemporary
evaluation. The paper mainly focuses on Greene’s
innovative ideas on each of the five main elements
of evaluation theory.
Setting: Not applicable.
Subjects: Not applicable.
Research Design: Not applicable.
Data Collection and Analysis: The paper is the
result of both a desk review of Jennifer Greene’s
most relevant work on bias, objectivity, and
advocacy in evaluation, and a phone interview
with her. For the sake of accuracy, the text of the
interview and the corresponding analysis were
submitted to Greene for review prior to
publication.
Findings: The author shows how Greene has
incorporated the five principles into her own work
and how this eventually influenced her practice.
Greene sorts evaluation approaches based on the
interests they serve and the values they promote.
However, she seems to have developed her theory
on valuing further over the years and today she
claims that evaluators should never privilege
anyone’s specific side in the course of their
assignments. Second, as knowledge is mediated by
evaluators’ perceptual frames, Greene believes that
an unfiltered (objective) view of the world is not
feasible. Third, she views evaluation as a force for
democratizing public conversations about
important issues. Fourth, although the evaluator’s
relationship with program staff could be collegial,
Greene believes that evaluators have no authority
or responsibility for the program design and
implementation. Fifth, Greene declares that
advocacy in evaluation is inevitable and, as a
result, evaluators should play a socially
enfranchising role today.
Conclusions: The debate on evaluation’s main
theoretical foundations is still relevant. For this
purpose, the author recommends that the five
main theories applied by this article to examine
Jennifer Greene’s work should be used more
systematically in the future to describe and analyze
evaluators’ practice. Such theoretical categories
would be especially beneficial in that they will
provide some common ground of understanding
among both practitioners and scholars on
evaluation concepts and practices which
experience has shown to be in constant evolution.
Keywords: evaluation theory, valuing, social
programming, knowledge, practice, use
__________________________________
* Tarsilla, M. (2010). Theorists’ Theories of Evaluation: A Conversation with Jennifer Greene. Journal of
MultiDisciplinary Evaluation, Volume 6, Number 13. 209-219.
http://www.jmde.com/ Theorists’ Theories of Evaluation
Journal of MultiDisciplinary Evaluation, Volume 6, Number 13
ISSN 1556-8180
February 2010
209
Theorists’ Theories of Evaluation: A
Conversation with Jennifer Greene
Michele Tarsilla
Western Michigan University
Background: Evaluation is sometimes viewed as
a professional practice rather than a discipline
corresponding to a well defined set of theories.
However, Shadish, Cook and Leviton (1991) were
able to demonstrate that evaluators’ work does
have theoretical foundations. In particular, the
authors identified five main elements for
evaluation theory and described the contribution
made to each of them by seven of the most
influential scholars in the field over the last five
decades.
Purpose: This paper intends to further the
discussion on evaluation theory, by examining
some of the contributions made Jennifer Greene,
one of the most influential figures in contemporary
evaluation. The paper mainly focuses on Greene’s
innovative ideas on each of the five main elements
of evaluation theory.
Setting: Not applicable.
Subjects: Not applicable.
Research Design: Not applicable.
Data Collection and Analysis: The paper is the
result of both a desk review of Jennifer Greene’s
most relevant work on bias, objectivity, and
advocacy in evaluation, and a phone interview
with her. For the sake of accuracy, the text of the
interview and the corresponding analysis were
submitted to Greene for review prior to
publication.
Findings: The author shows how Greene has
incorporated the five principles into her own work
and how this eventually influenced her practice.
Greene sorts evaluation approaches based on the
interests they serve and the values they promote.
However, she seems to have developed her theory
on valuing further over the years and today she
claims that evaluators should never privilege
anyone’s specific side in the course of their
assignments. Second, as knowledge is mediated by
evaluators’ perceptual frames, Greene believes that
an unfiltered (objective) view of the world is not
feasible. Third, she views evaluation as a force for
democratizing public conversations about
important issues. Fourth, although the evaluator’s
relationship with program staff could be collegial,
Greene believes that evaluators have no authority
or responsibility for the program design and
implementation. Fifth, Greene declares that
advocacy in evaluation is inevitable and, as a
result, evaluators should play a socially
enfranchising role today.
Conclusions: The debate on evaluation’s main
theoretical foundations is still relevant. For this
purpose, the author recommends that the five
main theories applied by this article to examine
Jennifer Greene’s work should be used more
systematically in the future to describe and analyze
evaluators’ practice. Such theoretical categories
would be especially beneficial in that they will
provide some common ground of understanding
among both practitioners and scholars on
evaluation concepts and practices which
experience has shown to be in constant evolution.
Keywords: evaluation theory, valuing, social
programming, knowledge, practice, use
__________________________________
*

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