Ethics, Evaluators, and Program Evaluation
Program evaluators serve various roles in program evaluation. First, they serve the role of a reporter by communicating results. Second, they serve as members of a profession. Third, they serve as members of society by reflecting on their background (Royse et al., 2016). Evaluators also serve as program managers. While executing these roles, evaluators may counter several sources of bias (Royse et al., 2016). These sources include participants’ selection which may occur when selecting people to involve in data collection, financial interest especially when an evaluator has a financial relationship with the program sponsor and personal viewpoints about a program.
Political pressures can create problems in program evaluation. First, if an evaluator does not include the political perspectives of various stakeholders, then the potential to move them to action is very limited (Royse et al., 2016). For example, if stakeholders with political influence are opposed to evaluation design, then they can express resistance affecting program evaluation. This shows that the political environment in which evaluation takes place determines the success of a program.
Various strategies can help minimize the occurrence and impact of the various problems in program evaluation. The first strategy is observing ethics in evaluation. Evaluators should follow professional standards and guidelines. By following these guidelines, evaluators choose appropriate evaluation designs, participants to be included in the evaluation, and methods to be used (American Evaluation Association, 2004). This can help avoid bias in the evaluation leading to program validity. Second, evaluators should prioritize stakeholder participation in evaluation to limit political pressures that create a problem for the evaluation process. Also, applying the code of conduct help evaluators avoid potential problems in program evaluations.
American Evaluation Association. (2004). American Evaluation Association’s guiding principles for evaluators. Retrieved from http://www.eval.org/p/cm/ld/fid=51
Royse, D., Thyer, B. A., & Padgett, D. K. (2016). Program evaluation: An introduction to an evidence-based approach (6th ed.). Boston, MA: Cengage.