Different Types of Evaluation Designs and Methodologies Thesis

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¶ … constantly developed over the past decades, as the complexity of the evaluated group, task or activity continued to grow. This complexity translated into a multitude of methodologies and designs, of which this paper will point out some of the most important ones. This paper also aims to discuss some of the main differences between this evaluation designs and methodologies, as well as draw conclusions on the comparison made.

Within a single group, the evaluator deals with the simplest types of design and evaluations. In general, there is a sole program targeting a single group with a particular purpose. This means that the evaluation can be as simple as determining whether or not the participants met the objective or improved after the program was completed. This can either be evaluated qualitatively or through simple mathematical formulas.

For example, if one was to determine whether a program targeting was successful in the group, the simplest evaluation would compare the number of smokers in the group before and after the program. If the number after the program is smaller than the number before the program, then the program can be evaluated as having been somewhat successful. The evaluation in a single group is probably the simplest, least time consuming and cheapest of all evaluation methodologies.Download full Download Microsoft Word File
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TOPIC: Thesis on Different Types of Evaluation Designs and Methodologies Assignment

With more complex situations, the methodologies become more complex as well. One type of design that has been used quite a lot in the last couple of decades in various segments, such as economy, is the time-series design or analysis. The main characteristic of this type of design is that the information is gathered from different time periods. The methodology provides some important and advantageous elements, such as the fact that collecting information over a longer period of time means that there is a higher chance that the evaluation will reflect actual trends of the analyzed element rather than just something that is true for only a limited period of time. At the same time, using such a methodology in the economic field, for example, allows the analyst to have a more generous perspective for his studies and look at economic cycles or other characteristics for the economic trends.

One potential problem that may arise with the time -- series analysis is that it is sometimes difficult to determine whether the change in trend or pattern that is noticed around the time of the implementation of a certain action or program is actually due to the program that was implemented. However, the benefit of the time-series analysis can be seen here as well in that the larger perspective allows the analyst to draw more pertinent conclusions on that respective analysis.

Some modern methodologies for evaluation propose using experiments as one of the tools for analysis. There are several important advantages for this type of methodology, including the fact that this is perhaps the most objective of all the types of analysis presented here (Posavac, Carey, 2006). At the same time, the experiment approach seems to be the one that may provide the closest needed results to the object of analysis of the evaluator. Indeed, the experiment design is usually based on the purpose of analysis and cannot derive too much from it. If the observer wants to determine the effect of a certain cream on the skin, his experiment will involve cream and people and not much else.

However, there are several important negative aspects with experiments to be considered, as compared with some of the other methodologies presented here. It is sometimes difficult to identify the subjects who are willing to participate in an experiment. Despite safety precautions, some may be reticent to be part of it on account of incurring injuries from the products that are being experimented. At the same time, there are high costs involved with some experiments, as well as a subjective element that does not carry some of the positive traits of the qualitative methodologies discussed below.

No matter how thorough they are, quantitative and statistical methodologies are not always sufficient and there are certain cases when the qualitative design or methodology either completes the quantitative approach or replaces it altogether for better results. The qualitative design involves the direct participation of the evaluator and a direct contact with the evaluated group rather than through the statistical intermediary. It also involved direct observation of the group, interviews with the members of the group etc.

Sometimes, there is also the discussion whether to pick a qualitative approach or a quantitative approach to the evaluation process. Unless it is the case when the best methodology is one that combines the two approaches, it is often the actual matter or situation at hand that will determine the best method to be used (Dobrovolny, Fuentes, 2008).

The differences from the statistical and quantitative evaluations previously mentioned also reside in the final purpose of the evaluation. While the quantitative evaluation targeted primarily the evaluation of certain trends and conclusions about the volume or quantity of a certain output, the qualitative evaluation will also likely go more in detail into the causes of a certain quantitative result.

The previous paragraph has mentioned the central role of the observer in a qualitative evaluation. If the observer is the main participant, then the interview is probably the most important instrument that is used in the qualitative design. Indeed, as previously mentioned, the qualitative evaluation relies on the direct contact between the observer and his observed individuals from the group. From this perspective, a quality interview is the best way by which he can gather the information needed for his analysis, but also to obtaining details on the underlying reasons for a certain manifestation of the group. As Kvale defined it, the interviews are "attempts to understand the world from the subjects' point-of-view, to unfold the meaning of peoples' experiences, to uncover their lived world prior to scientific explanations." (Kvale,1996).

This discussion can lead to a comparison between the costs, both financial and temporal, of a quantitative vs. A qualitative evaluation. In both cases, it depends on the depth in which the evaluator wants to go. On one hand, the quantitative analysis appears to be less costly than a qualitative one, mainly because statistical data during a certain period of time is generally the type of public information that is available to everyone. On the other hand, the interview needs to be designed so as to perfectly target the evaluated individuals and cover all the relevant elements that the observer wants to analyze.

As mentioned below, the interview brings an additional level of interaction between the observer and the subject and this sometimes means a period of time during which the observer will need to be in direct contact with the observed. Additional costs will be involved here, such as travel or local expenses cost, not to mention paying the subject for interviews etc.

However, sometimes a quantitative evaluation will also need significant investing before the right data and information is gathered. For example, the evaluation might be about a certain type of product and the impact that its launch will have on a company's or organization's group of consumers. For this type of evaluation, particular data will be needed rather than general information on the market or similar types of statistical data that is publicly available. The organization will need to invest into interviews of a different kind that can be fundamental in providing the relevant data on consumer preference. This type of interview will be more of a survey than a qualitative interview.

One of the important problems that qualitative evaluations bring about is their level of subjectivity and, at the same time, the impact that subjectivity, as part of a qualitative evaluation, can have on the final analysis. If one compares a qualitative evaluation with a quantitative one, such as a time-series analysis, the rigor of the latter may initially have the upper hand. With a quantitative analysis, the evaluator can be more certain that the statistical measures used are a closer reflection of the numerical reality of a certain situation. In other words, from that particular perspective, the quantitative evaluation will better reflect a statistical reality.

On the other hand, the subjectivism of the qualitative analysis is more adequate in presenting the underlying causes of a certain state of fact, mainly because a qualitative analysis will offer a greater interaction between the observer and the analyzed subject. With that type of interaction, the observer will be better able to understand why some of the things he noticed in his analysis occur and, using that, anticipate on some of the future trends of development for the subject. While the quantitative analysis will be more detached, the qualitative one will bring a closer contact between the subject and the evaluator.

The comparison between a qualitative and a quantitative evaluation in terms of cost will most likely also need to take into consideration a comparison of the outcome of the evaluation. In that sense, the cost element will… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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