Marvin Alkin: Second Edition of Book Gets to the Root of Evaluation

Founder and director of SRM Evaluation Group examines global perspectives in new version of definitive text

Professor Emeritus of education Marvin Alkin has recently published the second edition of his book, “Evaluation Roots: A Wider Perspective of Theorists’ Views and Influences” (Ed., 2012, Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage). Alkin, whose research interests include the utilization of educational evaluation, educational evaluation theory, and problems of evaluating educational programs, says that the addition of writings by major evaluation theorists in Europe, Australia, and New Zealand provide insights from places where evaluation as a discipline is greatly developed outside of the United States.

Considered the definitive text on the field, the volume provides an updated look at theories of evaluation across education, their evolution, and their relationship to one another.

“I have for some time been studying differences between ‘research’ and ‘evaluation,’” notes Alkin. “In the conceptualization of what is evaluation, it became clear to me that evaluation theorists – namely, those who write about what it is to [conduct] an evaluation and how they prescribe it should be done – could be categorized into three streams or branches of a tree. This book is an attempt to demonstrate which theorists fit on each branch and how they relate to each other.”

Alkin states that with the major thrust for accountability in this country in education and other fields, program and teacher evaluation has risen to a position of great importance. He says that his book provides easy access to alternative approaches to evaluation that illustrate a beginning point for how to conduct an evaluation.

Alkin is the founder and current director of the Social Research Methodology (SRM) 
Evaluation Group at the Graduate School of Education & Information Studies. The group engages in a variety of evaluation projects serving clients ranging from small, one-site nonprofits to large urban school districts, including the Improving Teacher Quality – Teacher Based Reform (ITQ-TBAR) evaluation. The study is currently documenting and assessing the effects of teacher participation in the Closing the Achievement Gap initiative within the Partnership for Los Angeles Schools Program, which is supported by and involves UCLA’s Center X Professional Learning Partners.

Alkin’s longstanding interest in evaluation dates back to 1966 when he founded and directed UCLA’s Center for the Study of Evaluation (now the National Center for Research on Evaluation, Standards, and Student Testing: CRESST). He recently contributed the chapter, “The evaluator’s role in valuing: Who and with whom,” (with Vo, A., & Christie, C.) in the 133rd volume of New Directions for Evaluation, an official publication of the American Evaluation Association. He has also recently written “Evaluation Roots: An International Perspective” (with Carden, F.) focusing on evaluation in developing nations for the Journal of Multidisciplinary Evaluation.