Psychology and the art of programme evaluation
SOUTH AFRICAN JOURNAL OF PSYCHOLOGY
University of Witwatersrand
This article suggests that psychologists may find value in the literature on programme evaluation, both theoretically and methodologically. Programme evaluation is an eclectic and diverse field and its literature reflects the contributions of persons trained within a variety of disciplines. It draws on a number of fields, which include management and organisational theory, policy analysis, education, sociology, social anthropology and the literature on social change. As such, the literature on programme evaluation may have value for psychologists planning evaluations of social programmes, in providing access to evaluation approaches and models developed within these different traditions. In terms of the breadth of perspectives and research traditions on which the evaluation literature draws, different forms of evaluation research can contribute to a psychology in South Africa which deals with multiple values and issues. On a theoretical level, this article suggests that the issues and debates reflected in the evaluation literature (e.g., those on empowerment) mirror debates that have occurred within the mainstream of psychology over the past 20 years. For this reason, the issues raised in the evaluation literature are relevant to the development of psychology as a discipline. The approaches and models proposed for the evaluation of social programmes are also potentially useful on a methodological level, particularly to those psychologists who work in community settings.