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RealWorld Evaluation

RealWorld Evaluation
Working Under Budget, Time, Data, and Political Constraints

Second Edition

© 2012 | 712 pages | SAGE Publications, Inc

This book addresses the challenges of conducting program evaluations in real-world contexts where evaluators and their clients face budget and time constraints and where critical data may be missing. The book is organized around a seven-step model developed by the authors, which has been tested and refined in workshops and in practice. Vignettes and case studies—representing evaluations from a variety of geographic regions and sectors—demonstrate adaptive possibilities for small projects with budgets of a few thousand dollars to large-scale, long-term evaluations of complex programs. The text incorporates quantitative, qualitative, and mixed-method designs, and this Second Edition reflects important developments in the field since the publication of the First Edition.

"This book represents a significant achievement. The authors have succeeded in creating a book that can be used in a wide variety of locations and by a large community of evaluation practitioners."—Michael D. Niles, Missouri Western State University

"This book is exceptional and unique in the way that it combines foundational knowledge from social sciences with theory and methods that are specific to evaluation."—Gary Miron, Western Michigan University

"The book represents a very good and timely contribution worth having on an evaluator's shelf, especially if you work in the international development arena."—Thomaz Chianca, independent evaluation consultant, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Part 1. The RealWorld Evaluation Approach
Chapter 1. Overview: RealWorld Evaluation and the Contexts in Which It Is Used
Chapter 2. [Step 1] Scoping the Evaluation: First clarify the purpose
Chapter 3. [Step 2] Budget Constraints: Not enough money
Chapter 4. [Step 3] Time Constraints: Addressing scheduling and other time constraints
Chapter 5. [Step 4] Data Constraints: Critical information is missing or difficult to collect
Chapter 6. [Step 5] Addressing Political Influences: Reconciling different priorities and perspectives
Chapter 7. [Step 6] Strengthening the Evaluation Design and the Validity of Conclusions
Chapter 8. [Step 7] Making it Useful: Helping clients and other stakeholders use the evaluation findings and recommendations
Part 2. A Review of Evaluation Methods and Approaches and their Application in RealWorld Evaluation: For those who would like to dig deeper on particular evaluation topics
Chapter 9. Ensuring competent and ethical practice in the conduct of the evaluation
Chapter 10. Theory-based evaluation
Chapter 11. Evaluation designs
Chapter 12. Quantitative evaluation approaches
Chapter 13. Qualitative evaluation approaches
Chapter 14. Mixed method evaluations
Chapter 15. Sampling
Chapter 16. Evaluating complex, multi-component development interventions
Part 3. Organizing and Managing Evaluations and Strengthening Evaluation Capacity: For readers involved with the funding and management of evaluations
Chapter 17. Organizing and managing evaluations
Chapter 18. Strengthening evaluation capacity
Chapter 19. Conclusions and challenges and the road ahead

This book should be on every researchers bookshelf. It a second edition, suggesting already that it is popular. The authors take the reader through every stage of the evaluation process addressing the issues in a clear, concise and understandable way.

Dr Rachel Taylor
Children's Nursing, London South Bank University
May 2, 2012

This is a great well laid out book which is easy to navigate around. There are wide range of case studies from small to large scale projects. Excellent examples of practical advice for managing budget, time scales and how to apply theory into practice. It would be suitable for community specialist pratitioners or managment leadership/ organisational development at level 7.

Mrs Mandy Barker
School of Nursing and Caring Sciences, Central Lancashire University
March 1, 2012
Key features

New to the Second Edition:

  • Adds two new chapters on organizing and managing evaluations, including how to strengthen capacity and promote the institutionalization of evaluation systems
  • Includes a new chapter on the evaluation of complex development interventions, with a number of promising new approaches presented
  • Incorporates new material, including on ethical standards, debates over the "best" evaluation designs and how to assess their validity, and the importance of understanding settings
  • Expands the discussion of program theory, incorporating theory of change, contextual and process analysis, multilevel logic models, using competing theories, and trajectory analysis
  • Provides case studies of each of the 19 evaluation designs, showing how they have been applied in the field

What's new in the Second Edition?

· A greater focus on responsible professional practice, codes of conduct and the importance of ethical standards for all evaluations.

· Some new perspectives on the debate over the "best" evaluation designs. While experimental designs can address the important issues of selection bias, such statistical designs are potentially vulnerable to a number of important threats to validity. These include process and contextual analysis, collecting information on sensitive topics and from difficult-to-reach groups, difficulties in adapting to changes in the evaluation design and implementation strategies. Experience also suggests that strong statistical designs can only be applied in a very small proportion of evaluations.

· There are many instances in which well-designed non-experimental designs will be the best option for assessing outcomes of many programs; particularly for evaluating complex programs and even "simple" programs that involve complex processes of behavioral change.

· The importance of understanding the setting within which the evaluation is designed, implemented and used.

· Program theory as a central building block of most evaluation designs. The expanded discussion incorporates theory of change, contextual and process analysis, multi-level logic models, using competing theories and trajectory analysis.

· The range of evaluation design options has been considerably expanded, and case studies are included (Appendix 6) to illustrate how each of the 19 designs has been applied in the field.

· Greater emphasis is given to the benefits of mixed method evaluation designs

· A new chapter has been added on the evaluation of complicated and complex development interventions. Conventional pretest-posttest comparison group designs can rarely be applied to the increasing proportion of development assistance channeled through complex interventions and a range of promising new approaches – still very much "work in progress" -- are presented

· Two new chapters on organizing and managing evaluations and strengthening evaluation capacity. This includes a discussion of strategies for promoting the institutionalization of evaluation systems at the sector and national levels.

· The discussion of quality assurance and threats to validity has been expanded and checklists and worksheets are included (Appendices 1-5) on how to assess the validity of quantitative, qualitative and mixed method designs.

For instructors

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