Theoretical Approaches to Evaluation Course - CEU Version

If you have been working in a program evaluation space for any time, you’ve probably heard about evaluation approaches, models, theories, or frameworks. Have you ever wondered if these things are the same or different? Or if it’s OK to mix-and-match ideas from different approaches? Have you ever questioned the relevance of evaluation theory to your work as a practitioner?

In this course, you'll take a deep dive into the following evaluation approaches, with a focus on their salient features and implications for practice:

  • Collaborative Approaches to Evaluation
  • Context, Process, Input, Product Evaluation
  • Culturally Responsive and Equitable Evaluation
  • Goal-Free Evaluation
  • Program Theory-Driven Evaluation
  • Utilization-Focused Evaluation

You will engage in a practice case in which you are a member of an evaluation team that is considering how to use ideas from these approaches in an upcoming evaluation. After learning about each approach and its relevance to the example evaluation, you will practice applying and integrating the ideas from the approaches to a different evaluation. The course focuses on the key features of each approach, without reviewing general advice about evaluation that most scholarly writing about approaches typically includes.

After completing this course, you will be ready to draw on ideas from multiple approaches to enrich your practice.

This course is designed for individuals with some evaluation experience who want to strengthen their knowledge of evaluation theory and expand their options for designing and conducting evaluations.

Time commitment

This course should take about three hours to complete.


Lori Wingate and Kelly Robertson developed this course with instructional design support from Jen Driscol at Allen Interactions. Lori and Kelly work at The Evaluation Center at Western Michigan University (WMU), and they have PhDs in interdisciplinary evaluation from WMU. They are coeditors of Core Concepts in Evaluation: Classic Writings and Contemporary Commentary.

Lori is coauthor of Program Evaluation: Alternative Approaches and Practical Guidelines and has led 75+ workshops and webinars on diverse evaluation topics. You can read more about Lori here. Kelly has extensive experience conducting social justice-focused evaluations and has been featured in webinars hosted by the American Evaluation Association, including its Graduate Education Diversity Initiative, EvaluATE, and the Vera Institute. You can read more about Kelly here.

If you want to purchase this course WITHOUT continuing education units (CEUs) click here.

Course With .3 Continuing Education Units $335.00

The Evaluation Center
Western Michigan University
Kalamazoo, MI 49008-5237

(269) 387-5916

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