Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Evaluation Methodology Basics or Brothers

Evaluation Methodology Basics: The Nuts and Bolts of Sound Evaluation

Author: Jane Davidson

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"What is evaluation-specific logic and methodology? This book answers that question in a way that is persuasive, accessible, and understandable. It presents a set of principles and procedures to guide the task of blending descriptive data with relevant values to draw explicitly evaluative conclusions. The book makes a significant contribution to positioning evaluation as a unique and special field of inquiry and judgment."
—Michael Quinn Patton, Union Institute and University

"Amidst the wash of methods books available to evaluators, Davidson's book provides powerful techniques for asking and answering the important foundational questions in any program evaluation."
—Doug Leigh, Pepperdine University

"This is a very well written book that offers a unique perspective on long-practiced evaluation techniques and presents several new, potentially very useful, techniques that return "valuation" to the evaluation process."
—Greg Roberts, University of Texas, Austin

Evaluation theorists for years have advised evaluators to "take into account" all relevant values as part of an evaluation. But especially for the relatively new evaluator (even one who is knowledgeable and experienced in research methodology), there is not a lot of guidance about how this is done. Evaluation Methodology Basics: The Nuts and Bolts of Sound Evaluation provides a step-by-step guide for doing a real evaluation. It focuses on the main kinds of "big picture" questions that evaluators usually need to answer, andhow the nature of such questions is linked to evaluation methodology choices. Jane Davidson explains how to combine a mix of qualitative and quantitative data with "relevant values" (such as needs) to draw explicitly evaluative conclusions.

Many students and evaluators find it difficult to visualize what evaluation logic and methodology "look like" in practice. To address this, Davidson presents readers with useful rubrics and flowcharts that may be used during each stage of the evaluation. Many of the concepts presented in the chapters are illustrated with specific examples from a range of disciplines. Exercises and "pop quiz" questions help reinforce the key points covered in each chapter, provide homework assignments for those teaching an evaluation course, and allow learners to develop slices of an evaluation plan as they work their way through the text.

Evaluation Methodology Basics is an ideal text for students of evaluation and students in programs that have evaluation course requirements, such as education, health, sociology, psychology, and many others throughout the social sciences. It will also be essential reading for practitioners who find themselves thrown into evaluation roles without the benefit of specialized evaluation training.

Table of Contents:
1What is evaluation?1
2Defining the purpose of the evaluation13
3Identifying evaluative criteria23
4Organizing the criteria and identifying potential sources of evidence53
5Dealing with the causation issue67
6"Values" in evaluation85
7Determining importance99
8The merit determination step131
9Synthesis methodology151
10Putting it all together189

Look this: The New Project Management or Talk Is Cheap

Brothers: The Hidden History of the Kennedy Years

Author: David Talbot

For decades, books about John or Robert Kennedy have woven either a shimmering tale of Camelot gallantry or a tawdry story of runaway ambition and reckless personal behavior. But the real story of the Kennedys in the 1960s has long been submerged -- until now. In Brothers: The Hidden History of the Kennedy Years, David Talbot sheds a dramatic new light on the tumultuous inner life of the Kennedy presidency and its stunning aftermath. Talbot, the founder of, has written a gripping political history that is sure to be one of the most talked-about books of the year.
Brothers begins on the shattering afternoon of November 22, 1963, as a grief-stricken Robert Kennedy urgently demands answers about the assassination of his brother. Bobby's suspicions immediately focus on the nest of CIA spies, gangsters, and Cuban exiles that had long been plotting a violent regime change in Cuba. The Kennedys had struggled to control this swamp of anti-Castro intrigue based in southern Florida, but with little success.
Brothers then shifts back in time, revealing the shadowy conflicts that tore apart the Kennedy administration, pitting the young president and his even younger brother against their own national security apparatus. The Kennedy brothers and a small circle of their most trusted advisors -- men like Theodore Sorensen, Robert McNamara, and Kenneth O'Donnell, who were so close the Kennedys regarded them as family -- repeatedly thwarted Washington's warrior caste. These hard-line generals and spymasters were hell-bent on a showdown with the Communist foe -- in Berlin, Laos, Vietnam, and especially Cuba. But the Kennedys continually frustrated theirmilitaristic ambitions, pushing instead for a peaceful resolution to the Cold War. The tensions within the Kennedy administration were heading for an explosive climax, when a burst of gunfire in a sunny Dallas plaza terminated John F. Kennedy's presidency.
Based on interviews with more than one hundred fifty people -- including many of the Kennedys' aging "band of brothers," whose testimony here might be their final word on this epic political story -- as well as newly released government documents, Brothers reveals the compelling, untold story of the Kennedy years, including JFK's heroic efforts to keep the country out of a cataclysmic war and Bobby Kennedy's secret quest to solve his beloved brother's murder. Bobby's subterranean search was a dangerous one and led, in part, to his own quest for power in 1968, in a passion-filled campaign that ended with his own murder. As Talbot reveals here, RFK might have been the victim of the same plotters he suspected of killing his brother. This is historical storytelling at its riveting best -- meticulously researched and movingly told.
Brothers is a sprawling narrative about the clash of powerful men and the darker side of the Cold War -- a tale of tragic grandeur that is certain to change our understanding of the relentlessly fascinating Kennedy saga.

The New York Times - Alan Brinkley

Talbot, the founder and former editor of Salon, the online magazine, is the latest of many intelligent critics who have set out to demolish the tottering credibility of the Warren Commission and draw attention to evidence of a broad and terrible conspiracy that lay behind the assassination of John Kennedy — and perhaps the murder of Robert Kennedy as well. Brothers is a fearless, passionate, often angry book that both summarizes much of the vast conspiracy literature and attempts to add new evidence that Talbot himself amassed through dogged interviews with many people connected — directly or indirectly — with the Kennedy years.

The Washington Post - Matthew Dalleck

Talbot, the founder and former editor-in-chief of Salon, has written a fast-paced narrative of Kennedy's search for his brother's killers. Talbot is careful to sidestep the question of who was actually responsible for the assassination. He dismisses the lone gunman theory as a crock and wonders about the CIA, Cuba and Mafia involvement. He bases his conclusions on more than 150 interviews he did with aides to the Kennedys, relatives of ex-CIA agents and anti-Castro exiles. His sources believe for the most part that Oswald didn't work alone, and their suppositions form the heart of Talbot's Manichean chronicle of two brothers who battled forces of darkness for the soul of modern America.

Publishers Weekly

Those looking for new insight into John F. Kennedy's presidency will want to read this meticulously researched chronicle. Talbot, the journalist founder of online newsmagazine Salon, sticks to the facts, starting with a timeline of then-attorney general Bobby Kennedy's actions on Nov. 22, 1963, the day his brother was killed. Immediately suspicious of the CIA, the Mafia and the Cuban exiles they're involved with, Bobby made it his mission to expose this "shadowy nexus"; much of the book concerns the Kennedy brothers' relationships with members of those factions as they dig for the truth behind the assassination. Talbot profiles friends and enemies, taking readers into JFK's strained work with Pentagon officials who famously pressured him to take a chance on the disastrous Bay of Pigs invasion. Later chapters deal with the aftermath of JFK's and then RFK's assassinations, and the final chapter contains Talbot's incisive conclusions on those momentous years. Talbot's only weakness is in covering too much-with more than 150 original interviews, he is forced to move too quickly from event to event, making his numerous characters hard to keep straight. Still, it's an admirable feat of reporting, and one that will spark conversation among conspiracy theorists, historians and others who lived through the Kennedy era. (May)

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