Evaluation as Social Technology

Evaluation as Social Technology
Chapter 5 from: Program evaluation In social research Full chapter

• Introduction
• Why Is Social Research Not Relevant
• A Framework for Solutions
• Differences between Science and Technology
• Advantages of Evaluation as Social Technology
• Interrelationships between Science and Technology

So far I have argued that the value of outcome evaluation can be increased if type, validity, and usefulness are considered separately as distinct aspects of any given evaluation plan. Each of these three elements contains implications for the other two, but those implications will not be clear unless each component part is analyzed separately. There is another aspect of the problem which must also be considered, namely, the basic philosophical model of knowledge seeking upon which outcome evaluation is based. This is a consideration which cuts across elements of type, validity and usefulness, and deals with basic approaches to social research. How are questions formulated? How are variables chosen? What decision rules are used to weigh evidence, draw conclusions, and make recommendations? The answers to these questions reflect a philosophical model of research, and the model chosen can have far-reaching effects on the ultimate value of any research project. There are three main aspects to the argument about to be developed. First, there are crucial differences between scientific and technological models of knowledge development. Second, these differences have profound implications for the practical value of research. Third, evaluation is far more of a technological than a scientific pursuit.

2 Responses to Evaluation as Social Technology


    Modeling evaluation on the technological system merely imposes on the
    researcher precisely the same constraints and sensitivities which are
    encountered by those who, with or without the use of research, will seek
    solutions to genuine societal problems. Scientists do not have those
    constraints, or at least, are rewarded for avoiding them. Thus while the
    scientific model is inherently irrelevant to practical issues, the technological
    model is, by its nature, responsive to changes in the need for practical
    solutions to practical problems. Just as planners are rewarded for their
    responsiveness to solutions to new problems which may arise, so too are
    technologists rewarded for the same responsiveness. In sum, the technological
    model of research is likely to bring the “research culture” and the general
    societal culture into alignment.


    Evaluation historically took root from diverse disciplnes – Tests and Measurement in statistics, social sciences and education. in practical terms, it applies principles such as the measurement of efficiency, effectiveness, relevance, cost benefit analysis, impact and sustainability. Issues such as validity, reliability and precision of testing has been difficult to apply to field evaluation approaches and operation research is more of theoritical framework

    The inclusion of evaluation as technology is good and could be an addendum to the fields that evaluation can be integrated and not solely. That could resolve issues such as lack of rigorous research if embedded in technology and perhaps that could facilitate more effective evaluation.and participatory approaches. I think

    Victoria Taiwo Obasaju-Ayo

  2. Pingback: Drawing on Complexity to do Hands-on Evaluation (Part 1) – Complexity in Evaluation and in Studies in Complexity | Surprises in Programs and their Evaluations

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