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Title:Re-examining the implications of systems thinking for evaluation
Author(s):Gates, Emily F
Director of Research:Schwandt, Thomas A.
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Greene, Jennifer C.
Doctoral Committee Member(s):DeStefano, Lizanne; Reynolds, Martin
Department / Program:Educational Psychology
Discipline:Educational Psychology
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):evaluation, systems thinking, complexity science, critical systems heuristics, values
Abstract:Over the last twenty years, many prominent evaluators have been borrowing and using ideas, theories, and methods from the systems and complexity fields with little research on the implications of this trend for the evaluation field. This thesis examines this borrowing to identify over-arching implications for evaluation theory and practice. The first paper reviews inter-disciplinary literature on systems thinking and complexity science with regards to evaluating social policies and programs and identifies major implications for how evaluators theorize evaluation practice. The second paper reports on an analysis of eight cases of evaluation practice that use systems and complexity ideas and techniques and presents findings regarding how evaluators conceive of and practice evaluation. The third paper advances an argument for how evaluators can use critical systems heuristics to surface, reflect on, and make explicit the values that influence and should influence an evaluation. Collectively, these papers support the potential of borrowing from the systems and complexity fields to expand on and re-define evaluation theory and practice.
Issue Date:2016-04-14
Rights Information:Copyright 2016 Emily Gates
Date Available in IDEALS:2016-07-07
Date Deposited:2016-05

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