An Exploratory Study of Sentient Evaluators: Communication, Ethics, and Relationships in the Evaluation Process
Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy
The purpose of this exploratory study was to develop hypotheses about the ways evaluators involve stakeholders, clients, and audiences in the evaluation process and communicate their findings to these groups. A sentient evaluator was defined as an evaluator who takes an active role in promoting the program that s/he is investigating and deliberately seeks to represent underrepresented stakeholders. This type of evaluator has her/his own ethical or moral agenda through which s/he views the program being evaluated and takes a formative perspective on program development and improvement.
Evaluators (n=12) believed to be sentient because they displayed certain characteristics were compared to randomly selected members of the American Evaluation Association (n=7) on two dimensions: (1) the ethical dilemmas that they encounter in the evaluation process, and (2) how they involve and communicate to various Scakeholders/clients/audiences.
This study developed detailed descriptions of the sentient role in terms of communicating and reporting efforts, the involvement of various groups in the evaluation process, and ethical considerations, in order to better understand its implications for the profession of evaluation. The following hypotheses were developed for future research based on the case interviews conducted in this study:
Hypothesis 1: Sentient evaluators differ from other evaluators in terms of the context they ascribe to evaluation (macro vs. micro-level of focus); Hypothesis 2: Sentient evaluators differ from other evaluators in terms of evaluation's role in promoting social criticism; Hypothesis 3: Sentient evaluators differ from other evaluators in terms of the involvement of stakeholders in the evaluation process; Hypothesis 4: Sentient evaluators differ from other evaluators in terms of the length, breadth, and depth of involvement in the project/organization being evaluated; and Hypothesis 5: Sentient evaluators differ from other evaluators in terms of evaluation's need to have theoretical discussion of values (how they affect the evaluation process and how they are communicated to stakeholders/clients/audiences).
Piontek, Mary Elizabeth, "An Exploratory Study of Sentient Evaluators: Communication, Ethics, and Relationships in the Evaluation Process" (1994). Dissertations. 1861.
Educational Assessment, Evaluation, and Research Commons, Educational Leadership Commons