Metaevaluation revisited, by Michael Scriven

Posted on 5 June, 2009 – 8:19 AM

An Editorial in Journal of MultiDisciplinary Evaluation, Volume 5, Number 11, January 2009

In this short and readable paper Michael Scriven addresses “three categories of issues that arise about meta-evaluation: (i) exactly what is it; (ii) how is it justified; (iii) when and how should it be used? In the following, I say something about all three—definition, justification, and application.” He then makes seven main points, each of which he elaborates on in some detail:

  1. Meta-evaluation is the consultant’s version of peer review.
  2. Meta-evaluation is the proof that evaluators believe what they say.
  3. In meta-evaluation, as in  all evaluation, check the pulse before trimming the nails.
  4. A partial meta-evaluation is better than none.
  5. Make the most of meta-evaluation.
  6. Any systematic approach to evaluation—in other words, almost any kind of professional evaluation—automatically provides a systematic basis for meta-evaluation.
  7. Fundamentally, meta-evaluation, like evaluation, is simply an extension of common sense—and that’s the first defense to use against the suggestion that it’s some kind of fancy academic embellishment.
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