Goal-Free Evaluation

(Evaluation Method)

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Evaluation Method
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What is Goal-free evaluation?

Goal-free evaluation (Often shortened to GFE) is any evaluation in which the evaluator conducts the evaluation without particular knowledge of or reference to stated or predetermined goals and objectives. This external evaluation model typically consists of an independent evaluator who is intentionally screened from the program's stated goals and objectives in hopes of reducing potential goal-related tunnel vision. According to Scriven, the logic behind avoiding stated goals and objectives has to do with "finding out what the program is actually doing without being cued as to what it is trying to do. If the program is achieving its stated goals and objectives, then these achievements should show up; if not, it is argued, they are irrelevant" . The goal-free evaluator attempts to observe and measure all actual outcomes, effects, or impacts, intended or unintended, all without being cued to the program's intentions. As Popham analogizes, “As you can learn from any baseball pitcher who has set out in the first inning to pitch a shutout, the game’s final score is the thing that counts, not good intentions.” Youker and Ingraham summarize GFE's benefits which are based on: * Controlling goal * Uncovering side effects * Avoiding the rhetoric of “true” goals * Adapting to contextual/environmental changes * Aligning goals with actual program activities and outcomes * Supplementing goal-based evaluation (also known as objectives-based evaluation)

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