Approaches to Program Evaluation

Approaches to Program Evaluation

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There are various approaches to program evaluation. Objectives-oriented and consumer-oriented approaches are among these approaches. These two approaches share some similarities. First, both are simple. Most people have an easy time understanding and using the two approaches. For example, in an objective-oriented approach, an evaluator compares a list of objectives with the program’s performance. Similarly, an evaluator using a consumer-oriented approach compares a program against a list of standards (Royse et al., 2016). Second, both approaches are objective. By using objectives and standards, evaluators can defend the evaluation judgments. 

Also, the two approaches have some differences. The first difference is the audience for which each evaluation is mainly designed. For the objectives-oriented approach, an evaluation is designed for program sponsors and administrators. The purpose of the evaluation is to determine if the program meets the set objectives (Royse et al., 2016). On the other hand, the consumer-oriented approach is designed for program consumers. The purpose is determining if a program is effective and not if objectives have been met. The second difference is the amount of work involved with the two approaches (Royse et al., 2016). Objectives-oriented approaches need more work including stating objectives and operationally defining them. On the other hand, a consumer-oriented approach only needs an evaluation checklist to start the evaluation process.

A consumer-oriented approach would be most appropriate where goals and objectives are not clearly stated and defined. In such a situation, consumer’s judgments could be useful in determining if a program is successful or not. On the other hand, an objectives-oriented approach would be more appropriate in a program where goals and objectives are not just stated clearly but also defined broadly (Royse et al., 2016). This is way, an evaluator can identify any discrepancies between objectives and performance.


Royse, D., Thyer, B. A., & Padgett, D. K. (2016). Program evaluation: An introduction to an evidence-based approach (6th ed.). Boston, MA: Cengage.

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