As part of my ongoing personal and professional development, I am going to include a new focus of my blog that will address a variety of issues that emerge in the course of my PhD in Education program at Walden University. My specialization, Organizational Research, Assessment, and Evaluation (ORAE), prepares scholar-practitioners to become professional evaluators who are cognizant of their social and ethical responsibilities when conducting evaluations.
But, what are these social and ethical responsibilities that evaluators inherit? Yarbrough, Shulha, Hopson, and Caruthers (2011) note that evaluators must be aware peoples’ fundamental human rights and include the interests of not only the powerful, but of the powerless members of society. The American Evaluation Association (2004) outlined five guiding principles that can inform the professional practice of evaluators: systemic inquiry, competence, integrity and honesty, respect for people, and responsibilities for general and public welfare. It seems that the human being and his welfare are at the center of evaluations. The whole purpose behind conducting evaluations is to improve society by improving the human condition. If that is the case, then all efforts must be employed to ensure fair and ethical evaluation.
One of my many research interests is for-profit education. I took up this topic because I am immersed in the for-profit education world. I work in a for-profit K-12 school and I am pursuing a PhD at a proprietary university. Can students receive a good education in institutions where the profit motive informs internal and external operations? Or, are for-profits able to present a new, effective model for education that other types of institutions can follow? I hope to explore these issues throughout my program. For now, I am wondering what social and ethical responsibilities one will face in trying to find out answers to the aforementioned questions. When studying for-profit educational enterprises, one will quickly notice that many of the schools, colleges, and universities are run like businesses designed to increase the profits of the stakeholders. This structure puts the owners in a very powerful position and the employees in a subordinate position. An evaluator in this situation would need the cooperation and participation of all stakeholders. She would also have to ensure that all voices are heard and that stakeholders can freely participate in the evaluation.
I believe that having pre-defined social and ethical responsibilities will help guide the evaluator and the evaluation. I would add that during the course of the evaluation, new circumstances may arise which could bring to light new responsibilities that were not previously known. Therefore, the evaluator must exercise constant flexibility.
American Evaluation Association. (2004). Guiding principles for evaluators. Retrieved from http://www.eval.org/p/cm/ld/fid=51.
Yarbrough, D. B., Shulha, L. M., Hopson, R. K., & Caruthers, F. A. (2011).The program evaluation standards: A guide for evaluators and evaluation users(3rd ed.).Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
The Evaluator’s Inheritance by Rashida Outlaw is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.