Spring 1987 // Volume 25 // Number 1 // Tools of the Trade // 1TOT2

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Evaluation Decision Makers


Michael T. Lambur
Extension Specialist,
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

A Guide for Evaluation Decision Makers. Marvin C. Alkin and Associates. Beverly Hills, California: Sage Publications, Inc., 1985. 168 pp., $12.95 paperback. Available from Sage Publications, Inc., 275 South Beverly Drive, Beverly Hills, California 90212.

This handbook is designed for administrators who'd like to take an active role in evaluating projects they're associated with or have administrative responsibilities for. Its focus is on helping administrators organize an evaluation to maximize its potential and make it as meaningful as possible for those involved in the evaluation process.

The handbook is organized into three parts. Part I, "Background, " defines evaluation, stresses how this process provides useful information for decision making, and describes how to determine who will use the evaluation information and how they might best use it. Part II, "Factors Affecting Evaluation Use, " identifies three categories of factorshuman, context, and evaluation-that are likely to affect evaluation use and suggests what administrators can do to make that effect positive.

Part III, "Utilization Factors: A Pattern for Organizing Evaluation, " outlines a structure that brings together the factors to increase evaluation use. In addition to several in-depth case studies illustrating use of the factor pattern, four worksheets are provided to help administrators organize evaluation projects. Finally, a review of the literature on evaluation use is provided in an appendix.

This handbook lives up to the authors' assurances that it's easy to read and light on technical jargon. The numerous examples, and especially the case studies, do an excellent job of tying together the evaluation factors and factor pattern presented in the text. Although a bit lengthy for Extension administrators, a review of this handbook would be beneficial for those involved in evaluating their programs. And, even though the handbook is targeted to administrators, all evaluators will find it a valuable reference for their libraries.