Evaluation Theories/Taxonomies of Evaluation Theory

Classification schemes cited by Christie & Azzam [1] are as follow:

  1. Fitzpatrick, Sanders, and Worthen (2003)
    1. Fitzpatrick, J. L., Sanders, J. R., and Worthen, B. R. Program Evaluation: Alternative Approaches and Practical Guidelines. (3rd ed.) Needham Heights, Mass.: Allyn and Bacon, 2003.
  2. Alkin and House (1992).
    1. Alkin, M. C., and House, E. “Evaluation of Programs.” In M. C. Alkin (ed.), Encyclopedia of Educational Research. (6th ed.) Old Tappan, N.J.: Macmillan, 1992.
  3. Shadish, Cook and Leviton (1991),
    1. Shadish, W. R., Cook, T. D., and Leviton, L. C. Foundations of Program Evaluation: Theories of Practice. Thousand Oaks, Calif.: Sage, 1991.
  4. Alkin and Christie (2004); Evaluation Theory "Tree"; "Methods, Values, Use"
    1. Alkin, M. C., and Christie, C. A. “An Evaluation Theory Tree.” In M. C. Alkin (ed.), Evaluation Roots (2004). Thousand Oaks, Calif.: Sage, 2004.

Note the lean towards program evaluation in the works cited here. Also note that when Alkin and Christie say "methods", they mean "theoretical approaches that are grounded in, and have a primary emphasis on, social science methodology." (Christie & Azzam, 2005).

Short Paper Prompts: edit

Students, post your answers to these questions in the "Discuss" Section of this Page.

  1. Discussing the Evaluation Theory Tree, Christie & Azzam note that "moving up a branch reflects the evolution of theoretical approaches, away from, but still grounded in, the initial theoretical approaches and thinking that served as the foundation for, and are positioned at the base of, the branch." - what are the pro's and con's of a categorization system that roots theory in its historical context? In what senses can historical context be said to be necessary or un-necessary for evaluating evaluation theories?


  1. Describe each in a short sentence
  2. move the full references to a reference section (but keep in-text citations that include the year the work was published as context)
  3. Give the following for each referenced work (keeping copyright firmly in mind), in order to provide access to these works by the less privileged:
    1. outlines,
    2. summary
    3. analysis
  1. [], Special Issue: Theorists’ Models in Action. (2005). New Directions for Evaluation, 106, p. 16