Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Dr. Chris L. S. Coryn


Goal-free evaluation (GFE) is the process of determining the merit of an evaluand independent of the stated or implied goals and objectives, whereas goal achievement evaluation (GAE), as the most rudimentary form of goal-based evaluation, determines merit according to the evaluand’s level of accomplishment with regard to its goals. This study examines the utility of GAE and GFE from the perspective of the evaluation’s intended users. In the study, two evaluation teams, goal achievement and goal-free, independently and simultaneously evaluate the same human service program. Each team produced a final evaluation report, which was read by the evaluation’s users, who then responded to questionnaires regarding the reports’ usefulness and later interviews. The questionnaire results were that 66% of evaluation users scored GAE more favorably versus 33% who scored GFE higher. The results of the interviews were that 40% of evaluation users found GAE more useful, with 20% claiming GFE more useful; the remaining users were undecided or felt the approaches equal. The conclusion is that differences between the two evaluation reports exist; however, it is not apparent as to whether these differences are caused by implementing GAE or GFE. Furthermore, the effects or differences that did present between the evaluations were small and not practically significant enough to definitively claim one approach clearly more useful to these evaluation users.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access