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Title:Knowledge and Power: Donald T. Campbell's Evolutionary Epistemology and Program Evaluation as Social Experimentation
Author(s):Lakomski, Gabriele
Department / Program:Education
Discipline:Education
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Degree:Ph.D.
Genre:Dissertation
Subject(s):Education, Philosophy of
Abstract:This dissertation argues that the unsatisfactory state of affairs in contemporary program evaluation evidenced by repeated findings of no significant difference is not primarily the result of technical inadequacy, but that it derives from theoretical, especially epistemological, problems. It is claimed that quantitative-experimental as well as qualitative evaluation holds inaccurate foundationalist views of knowledge which practically serve the interests of relatively narrow but powerful groups such as evaluators and sponsors. Foundationalist views of knowledge are those which claim epistemic privilege subject to the allegedly secure foundations of "sense data," "innate ideas," or "Verstehen" from which knowledge can be reliably derived. It is argued that since no such epistemically privileged foundations exist by means of which we can justify our expert knowledge and privileged position as evaluators, philosophers, or social scientists, we have to look to the social, historical, and political conditions within which evaluation is embedded.
Donald T. Campbell's descriptive evolutionary epistemology enables us to do precisely that. It is argued that while Campbell's experimental methodology is still the reigning evaluation orthodoxy, the introduction of a materialist-physicalist theory of knowledge provides an important first step toward the redefinition of the study and practice of evaluation as social experimentation. While Campbell correctly identifies where to look for the solution of the current malaise in evaluation, he ultimately does not accept that his epistemology is normative. For program evaluation to be social experimentation which properly contributes to the resolution of social problems, a dialectical rather than mechanical, materialist theory of evaluation is developed.
Issue Date:1984
Type:Text
Description:171 p.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1984.
URI:http://hdl.handle.net/2142/68891
Other Identifier(s):(UMI)AAI8409798
Date Available in IDEALS:2014-12-15
Date Deposited:1984


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