Roles for Theory in Contemporary Evaluation Practice: Developing Practical Knowledge

Document Type



Community and Global Health (CGU)

Publication Date





Relative to many professions, evaluation has a brief but interesting history Evaluation scholars often note the work of Ralph Tyler and his “Eight Year Study” of progressive education in the 1940s as one of the first landmarks in the development of the modern profession and discipline of evaluation (see, e.g., Alkin, 2004a). However, the first major boom in evaluation seemed to occur in the United States in late 1960s and 70s under the Kennedy and Johnson Administrations, when social programs were developed on a grand scale and heavily supported by federal funding under the policies of the “War on Poverty” and the “Great Society” (Rossi, Lipsey, & Freeman, 2004). Many of our most sophisticated experimental methods, quasi-experimental designs, and data analytic techniques for generalized causal inference were developed in response to the challenges of determining the net impact of these and subsequent large-scale government social programs and policies (Shadish, Cook, & Campbell, 2001).

Rights Information

© 2006 SAGE Publications