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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Program staffs perceptions of barriers to evaluation implementation

  • Author(s): Taut, SM
  • Alkin, MC
  • et al.

This study investigated the nature of barriers to the implementation of (external) program evaluation. The purpose of the study was to expand the scarce empirical research on this topic by adding program staff perspectives. Eighteen staff members of a university outreach program that had been subjected to external evaluation were interviewed (1) about their general thoughts on barriers to evaluation implementation, and (2) about their views on the explanatory value of factors found in research related to evaluation utilization and which we believed to be theoretically relevant for barriers to evaluation implementation. These factors are summarized as human, evaluation, and context factors. Asked what they considered to be barriers to evaluation implementation, the interviewees mentioned human factors most frequently. They talked about evaluation and context factors much less frequently. With regard to human factors, interviewees focused on the evaluator's social competence and program staff's lack of trust in evaluators and evaluation process. Taking into account the context of the study, particularly the participants' prior experiences with evaluation, the findings reinforce our understanding that in order to avoid barriers to evaluation implementation, it is important to create a trusting relationship with those affected by the evaluation through continuous participation and communication, and to conduct carefully planned, methodologically appropriate evaluations.

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