Toward an integrative framework for evaluation practice

Melvin M. Mark, Gary T. Henry, George Julnes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


Evaluation has been beset with serious divisions, including the paradigm wars and the seeming segmentation of evaluation practice into distinct evaluation theories and approaches. In this paper, we describe key aspects of an integrative framework that may help evaluators move beyond such divisions. We offer a new scheme for categorizing evaluation methods within four inquiry modes, which are "families" or clusters of methods: description, classification, causal analysis, and values inquiry. In addition, we briefly describe a set of alternative evaluation purposes. We argue that, together with a form of realist philosophy, the framework of inquiry modes and evaluation purposes (1) provides a common lexicon for evaluators, which may help the field in moving beyond past divisions, and (2) offers a useful approach to evaluation planning.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)177-198
Number of pages22
JournalAmerican Journal of Evaluation
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1999

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Business and International Management
  • Social Psychology
  • Health(social science)
  • Education
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Strategy and Management


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