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social, health, political imagery through the lens of George J Huba PhD © 2012-2019

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This is the first of a series of posts I am making about program-organizational (and individual) evaluation. Much of what I will discuss is not in the mainstream of traditional program evaluation methodology.

My approach is different. It works.

In this first section the point is — obviously — that evaluation is iterative and nonlinear. This led to my first model that EVALUATION IS DETECTIVE WORK several decades ago. [Perhaps that explains my current obsession with all versions of Sherlock Holmes, whether in the original, present London, present New York, or by Iron Man.] At any rate, it seems ELEMENTARY to me that instead of thinking of program evaluation as a linear research experiment with a fixed design (a metaphor that works at best imperfectly), it is more important to treat evaluation as detective work where good rules of evidence must be followed and the evaluator is at fault if all outcomes are not found.

My initial development of the Detective Model in 1992 came from my observation that in much traditional program evaluation the evaluator applies a flawed “research” experimental model and the insensitivity of this approach means that a program looks worse than it is because the evaluation methodology is in error. Who pays for this problem? The program, of course, since the evaluator walks away saying that the “program sucks” and not that the evaluator screwed up. In the Detective Model, applied iteratively and nonlinearly, the evaluator and the program are partners, and it is clear what the responsibilities and level of success each has.

Seems ELEMENTARY to me.

As usual click on the image to zoom.

Evaluation is an Iterative, Non-linear Process

+ high-res version

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Technical note: this mind map was prepared with an iPad app (in iMindMap). I judge the quality of the map to be about as good as the Mac version used to create most of the other mind maps on this site. The iPad and iPhone iMindMap apps are highly recommended.