Evaluation Ethics for Best Practice : Cases and Commentaries book cover
1st Edition

Evaluation Ethics for Best Practice
Cases and Commentaries

Edited By

Michael Morris

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ISBN 9781593855697
Published October 25, 2007 by Guilford Press
230 Pages

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Book Description

Focusing on ethical challenges in program evaluation, this innovative book features six case-study scenarios that end at a point where the evaluator faces a significant decision about how to proceed. For each case, two distinguished evaluators offer insights on the best course of action to choose, and why. What If? boxes modify the details of the scenarios, inviting readers to reflect on whether these changes alter the ethical implications of the case. Six additional cases are presented with questions that guide readers to develop their own ethical analyses. The book is organized to follow the progress of an evaluation, from the entry/contracting phase through the utilization of results.

Table of Contents

1. Ethics and Evaluation

2. The Entry/Contracting Stage

Scenario 1: The Coordination Project

Commentary: Consumers, Culture, and Validity, Karen E. Kirkhart

Commentary: Whose Evaluation Is It, Anyway?, David M. Chavis

What If...?

Final Thoughts: The Coordination Project

Scenario 2: Just Say No?

Questions to Consider

3. Designing the Evaluation

Scenario 1: The Damp Parade?

Commentary: Everybody Talks about the Weather..., Melvin M. Mark

Commentary: No Rain Today, Gail V. Barrington

What If...?

Final Thoughts: The Damp Parade

Scenario 2: What’s under the Rock?

Questions to Consider

4. Data Collection

Scenario 1: The Folder

Commentary: Hold ’Em or Fold(er) ’Em?: What’s an Evaluator to Do?, Michael Hendricks

Commentary: Centering the Folder, sarita davis

What If…..?

Final Thoughts: The Folder

Scenario 2: Hideout

Questions to Consider

5. Data Analysis and Interpretation

Scenario 1: Knock, Knock, What’s There?

Commentary: What’s There: Confidence or Competence?, Leslie J. Cooksy

Commentary: Interpreting Effects, William R. Shadish

What If...?

Final Thoughts: Knock, Knock, What’s There?

Scenario 2: Things Happen

Questions to Consider

6. Communication of Results

Scenario 1: Mainstream

Commentary: Mainstreaming Process Evaluation: Ethical Issues in Reporting Interim Results, Mary Ann Scheirer

Commentary: Reporting Bad News: Challenges and Opportunities in an Ethical Dilemma, Yolanda Suarez-Balcazar and Lucía Orellana-Damacela

What If...?

Final Thoughts: Mainstream

Scenario 2: Whose Voices?

Questions to Consider

7. Utilization of Results

Scenario 1: Nightly News

Commentary: Fixing the Spin on Evaluation, Laura C. Leviton

Commentary: From Substance Abuse to Evaluation Misuse: Is There a Way Out?, Sharon F. Rallis

What If...?

Final Thoughts: Nightly News

Scenario 2: Is My Job Done Yet?

Questions to Consider

8. Lessons Learned

Appendix A. The Guiding Principles for Evaluators

Appendix B. The Program Evaluation Standards, Second Edition

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Michael Morris is Professor of Psychology at the University of New Haven, where he directs the Master's Program in Community Psychology. He served as the first editor of the Ethical Challenges section of the American Journal of Evaluation from 1998 to 2004. His publications have appeared in Evaluation Review, Evaluation and Program Planning, the American Journal of Community Psychology, and the Journal of Community of Psychology, among others. He coedited, with Jody Fitzpatrick, the New Directions for Evaluation volume devoted to Current and Emerging Ethical Challenges in Evaluation (1999). Dr. Morris is a member of the Editorial Advisory Boards of New Directions for Evaluation and the American Journal of Evaluation and has served as Chair of the Ethics Committee and the Public Affairs Committee of the American Evaluation Association. His other books include Poverty and Public Policy (with John Williamson) and Myths about the Powerless (with M. Brinton Lykes, Ramsay Liem, and Ali Banuazizi). A trainer in evaluation ethics throughout the United States and abroad, he received his PhD in community-social psychology from Boston College.


A thoughtful, thorough approach. The book is well written, covers very important topics in the area of evaluation and assessment, and uses a creative approach to identify salient ethical issues in evaluation. Each chapter can stand alone, and some or all of them would be a wonderful supplement to a text for a course on evaluation.--John H. Schuh, Distinguished Professor of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies, Iowa State University

I really like the author's approach. Probably the most powerful aspect is the concrete, real-life scenarios that bring the subject matter to life. I can't say enough about how much is to be gained from this approach. I think the scenario exercises are a real stroke of genius, in that they allow the student to anticipate and to think ahead about what to do.--Geni Cowan, Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies, California State University, Sacramento

This book is a great introduction to ethical dilemmas faced not only by evaluators, but also by their client organizations. The beauty of it is that it provides an opportunity to work out the different facets of how we do our work. Beyond the nuts and bolts of what to do, this book makes us think about how we do it. It encourages us to think it through and make decisions that support the integrity of evaluation.--Geni Cowan, Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies, California State University, Sacramento

This book is a great way for students to learn the complexities of evaluation ethics in real-world settings! Realistic case studies with responses by different evaluators--both academics and practitioners--illustrate ethical dilemmas that can arise at every stage of the evaluation, and show how even experienced evaluators differ in the approaches and actions they take in each case. Other cases, without responses, give students the opportunity to practice their own skills.--Jody L. Fitzpatrick, coauthor of Program Evaluation: Alternative Approaches and Practical Guidelines; Graduate School of Public Affairs, University of Colorado at Denver

As evaluation practitioners know all too well, evaluation is a highly political activity. As such, it is fraught with ethical dilemmas. Morris and his colleagues are to be congratulated for providing the field with a comprehensive, thought-provoking, highly practical, and very useable book on the topic of evaluation ethics. The book’s organization takes us through the stages of evaluation practice, providing concise and relevant case scenarios that have few simple answers, yet lend critical insights into what one might do in a given situation. Particularly helpful are the guiding and 'What If' questions, which are excellent tools to facilitate conversations with students, colleagues, and evaluation clients. This book should be on every evaluator's bookshelf.--Hallie Preskill, School of Behavioral and Organizational Sciences, Claremont Graduate University; 2007 President, American Evaluation Association
Morris has enlisted a seasoned cadre of evaluators to reflect on his evocatively crafted ethical dilemmas. Leaving ponderous prose behind, the contributors write in an engaging, personal style as they weigh alternative courses of action in each scenario. The result is a lively journey through evaluation's ethical landscape that is also a genuinely instructive read.--Jennifer Greene, Department of Educational Psychology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

This is an exceptionally thought-provoking book for students and practitioners at all levels. It was an informative, entertaining, and engaging read. I had a hard time putting it down. Students in my introductory program evaluation class reported that the cases in the book brought the AEA's Guiding Principles to life and helped them better understand the ethical (and other types of) decision making at the heart of evaluation practice. Reflecting on these cases helped these students prepare for effective evaluation practice.--Donald B. Yarbrough, Director, Center for Evaluation and Assessment, University of Iowa

In the spirit of 'Ethical Challenges,' his well-known regular feature in the American Journal of Evaluation, Morris has assembled an interesting and compelling set of challenge scenarios and responses from leading contributors to the professional knowledge base. This book is a delightful addition to the shelves of evaluation practitioners and students. Morris walks us through ethical challenges and dilemmas associated with all aspects of the process, from planning evaluations to using their results. The thematic round up of cross-cutting issues in the final chapter moves the profession forward in realistic and thoughtful ways. Bravo!--J. Bradley Cousins, Faculty of Education, University of Ottawa, Ontario, Canada; Editor, Canadian Journal of Program Evaluation