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Programme Evaluation Paradigms

Paradigms in programme evaluation

Programme Evaluation Paradigms.

Definition of Terms

Evaluation: This can be defined as a systematic process of assessing the design, implementation and improvement or outcome of a programme in order to judge its effectiveness and efficacy.

Programme: This can be simply defined as a set of structured activities put together to attain a predetermined goal.


Programme Evaluation: This can be defined as a systematic method of collecting and analyzing data to answer questions about the efficacy of programmes.

Paradigms in Programme Evaluation

Paradigms in programme evaluation refer to patterns of thought, system of beliefs or conceptual framework followed to judge the effectiveness of a programme. The paradigms of programme evaluation provide a useful structure for examining different perspectives functioning in various sectors. There are four paradigms of programme evaluation:

  1. Transformative paradigm
  2. Post-positivist paradigm
  3. Pragmatic paradigm
  4. Constructivist paradigm

They are discussed extensively as follows;

Transformative Paradigm

The transformative paradigm is a paradigm in which an evaluator creates a theoretical framework for each distinct culture to be examined, taking into account the ethnic group’s shortcomings, inherent impairments, and human rights. The goal of this paradigm is to improve social fairness.

The absence of human rights and marginalization in the culture is at the heart of any attempt to improve social justice. It attempts to address the issue of uneven rights in the context of resolving social injustice.

This inequitable right exists in places where people are subjected to discrimination and oppression due to causes such as disability, political turmoil, poverty, and gender bias.

The transformative paradigm ensures that the evaluator has the following insights;

Discrimination and oppression are pervasive: This indicates that prejudice and oppression experienced by persons who are victims of social injustice exhibit themselves in all aspects of their lives.

The lifestyle and culture of the community: The assessors must be familiar with the lifestyle and culture of the community they will be evaluating.

The ethical principles inherent in the culture of the community: The transformative evaluator needs to understand the ethical concepts of respect, ethics, beneficence, and justice.

When an evaluator is interested in analyzing political structures and conceptions that encourage inequality in a society, the transformative paradigm is used.

The evaluators learn from members of the community who are marginalized and discriminated against; from them, the evaluator learns about the culture of the people as well as earlier attempts by other scholars to address the issues.

As a result, in order to bring about transformation (transformative paradigm), the evaluator must establish a good rapport with the community’s stakeholders. The epistemic process of this paradigm is the relationship between the evaluator and the stakeholders.

Furthermore, the theory of the transformative paradigm’s axiology has six principles, they are;

  1. The importance of being culturally respectful
  2. The promotion of social justice
  3. The furtherance of human rights
  4. Addressing inequities
  5. Reciprocity
  6. Recognition of community strengths and resilience

Finally, respect is studied critically in terms of cultural norms of interaction in a variety of cultures and cultural groupings. The process and outcomes of assessment studies are explicitly linked to the advancement of a social justice agenda.

Practical Example of the Transformative Paradigm

In a deaf school, an evaluator is tasked with determining the disparity in recruited instructors and administrators. The evaluator notices that the instructors and administrators are individuals without hearing impartment . Among the teachers and administrators, there was no one with a hearing impairment.

Further investigation revealed that no teacher or administrator was a hearing impaired employee, as none of the hearing impaired people who applied for a job as a teacher or administrator in the school possessed the teacher’s qualification certificate in addition to their various degrees.

The assessor went even farther, asking persons with hearing impairment why they didn’t have the certificate. The examination for obtaining the certificate was then discovered to be prejudiced towards those with hearing impairment.

They were unable to take the exam since the necessary facilities were not available. The evaluator then informed the stakeholders, who ensured that financial help was provided to enable the provision of the facilities required by hearing challenged applicants, thereby ensuring equitable job application chances.

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Post-positivist Paradigm

This paradigm is associated with the idea that society can be examined in the same manner as science can. The post-positivist paradigm rests on the assumption that causal links can be explained.

This paradigm also emphasizes the use of quantitative data and designs for analysis, which is accomplished through the development of a mathematical relationship between the variables to be evaluated, identification of the variables to be evaluated, creation of a conceptual framework, development of a mathematical model, and interpretation of the results.

They consider the complexities of human behavior and believe that reality may be accurately predicted with probability. In social research and evaluation, a quasi-experimental design is utilized.

Finally, the post-positivist paradigm believes that the evaluator or researcher can receive impartial, unbiased data to analyze. It is presumptively assumed that data collection is ethical and that the evaluator has no influence over the data collected for analysis.

The axiology of the post-positivist paradigm has six (6) norms, they are;

  1. A valid research design must be used.
  2. The researcher must be competent to conduct the research.
  3. Consequences of the research must be identified.
  4. The sample selection must be appropriate for the purposes of the study.
  5. The participants must agree to participate in the study.
  6. The researcher must inform the participants whether harm will be compensated.

Practical Example of the Post-positivist Paradigm

An evaluator was trying to figure out how good a teaching approach was at improving a community’s culture. The evaluators have to utilize a quasi-experimental approach to accomplish this.

The quantitative method of quasi-experimental design was utilized to assess the teaching method and its impact on community cultural enhancement.

From this example, one can see that the quantitative method which is the backbone of the post-positivist paradigm was used to evaluate the cultural implication of the teaching method in the community

Pragmatic Paradigm

The pragmatic paradigm is based on the idea that each person interprets reality differently, and that the evaluation questions decide the research strategy that will be employed for the evaluation.

The pragmatic paradigm emphasizes the use of a mixed-methods approach to research. The evaluator is tasked with determining the success of the program being assessed; the evaluator gathers pertinent data, analyzes the data using a mixed method design, and draws conclusions based on the findings.

This paradigm is concerned not only with assessing programs, but also with the use of the results produced after the program has been examined.

The research approach should be appropriate for the study’s objectives. The mixed method design entails collecting and interpreting data using both quantitative and qualitative methods. The assessor also takes into account the study’s stakeholders.

Practical Example of the Pragmatic Paradigm

An evaluation team was formed to assess the success of a teaching approach as well as the stakeholders’ reactions to it. The evaluators have to employ a randomized control group design and an interview strategy to accomplish this.

The quantitative approach of randomized control group design was utilized to evaluate the teaching method, while the qualitative method of interview was employed to acquire stakeholders’ replies expressing their opinions about the teaching method.

After which the data obtained was analyzed and conclusion was drawn. From this example, it can be seen that the pragmatic paradigm was for evaluation by making use of the mixed method research design.

Constructivist Paradigm

The constructivist paradigm is founded on the idea that knowledge is socially created by those who participate in research.

This paradigm holds that in order to correctly evaluate whatever program is to be carried out with respect to the specific community, an evaluator must first comprehend the community to be evaluated and have in-depth knowledge and awareness of the community.

The constructivist paradigm emphasizes the use of qualitative research methods in assessing any community’s or program’s cultural values. This paradigm also shows how an evaluator’s value has a tendency to impact the study technique and outcome.

Furthermore, the constructivist paradigm indicates that the evaluator’s values will always have an impact on the study process and outcome. In the constructivist paradigm, qualitative methods such as interviews and observation are used.

In order to fully evaluate the effectiveness of the program carried out in the community, the evaluator must be a member of the community, live in it, and experience its culture and values. The evaluator must get along well with the respondents.

The evaluator is thought to have a natural need to produce knowledge by experiencing, digesting, and interpreting what they see. The evaluator can use this to create a reality that goes beyond the experience of interacting with external stimuli in order to comprehend the significance of social phenomena.

This guarantees that the evaluator has a thorough awareness of the situation and that the stakeholders are aware of the outcome. As a result, human experiences and behaviors cannot be assessed from afar.

Practical Example of the Constructivist Paradigm

For example, in 2013, an evaluator conducted study to see if a neighborhood that was known for marginalizing black individuals in the 1950s continued to do so after the act of marginalization was prohibited in 1980.

To do so, the evaluator had to reside in the neighborhood for a period in order to observe white people’s attitudes and conduct toward black people. The interview method was also employed by the researcher to acquire information from blacks about how they were treated in the community.

From this example, one can see that the qualitative design was used to obtain data by the evaluator. Therefore, the evaluator used the constructivist paradigm in the research.

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