Evaluation research aims in providing the researcher with the assessments of the past, present or proposed programs of action. The methodology that is involved in evaluation research is managerial and provides management assessments, impact studies, cost benefit information, or critical path analysis.
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Evaluation research is done for the purpose of planning.
There are certain concepts discussed below that help the researcher in understanding the theory of evaluation research.
The questions that are asked while conducting evaluation research are divided into three categories. Those categories are descriptive, normative and impact questions. These are asked in evaluation research.
The descriptive questions in evaluation research mainly involve the questions that describe the goals, objectives, implementation processes, etc. For example, in evaluation research, questions include questions like ‘are the goals communicated throughout the organization?’; ‘are the objectives being formulated in a clear and an appropriate manner?’ etc. These questions generally fall in the category of descriptive questions.
The normative questions in evaluation research are those types of questions that evaluate the program’s goals and the objectives by the multiple values. For example, in evaluation research, questions like ‘are goals short term or long term?’ ‘are objectives based on behavioral studies or attitudinal studies?’ come under the category of normative questions.
The impact questions asked by researchers in evaluation research are those types of questions that are based on the evaluation of the program’s goals and the objectives with respect to the consequence. In evaluation research, questions like ‘what are the short term direct impacts on each client or the share holder in the program?’, and ‘what are the indirect costs and benefits?’ come under the category of impact questions.
There are basically four major kinds of research designs in evaluation research. They are Survey Research, Case Study, Field Experiment and Secondary data analysis.
The survey research type of research design in evaluation research is used primarily around the descriptive and the normative type of questions. Survey research, which is mainly based upon random samples in evaluation research, is far superior to the surveys which consist of non-randomly obtained samples. Survey research based on random samples in evaluation research is quite superior, and these are the only types of research design that are based on statistical significance testing.
The case study type of research design in evaluation research is also used primarily around the descriptive and the normative type of questions. Even though this type of research design can be quantitative, such research designs are often used in evaluation research in order to gather qualitative information that contributes in the findings obtained through survey research or other quantitative methods.
The field experiment type of evaluation research is used primarily for impact questions. This type of research is quite different from the other type of research design. This type of research design requires a control or comparison group in evaluation research.
There are basically three main types of field experiments in evaluation research. These are the true experiments (subjects randomly assigned to treatment and control groups), nonequivalent comparison groups (subjects are not assigned randomly and so the control group is not equivalent), and before-and-after studies (same subjects studied before and after treatment, no control group).
The secondary data analysis type of research design in evaluation research is useful for all three types of evaluation questions.
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