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Ethical Challenges: To Participate or Not to Participate?
Cooksy, Leslie J.
Article from Journal - e-Journal
American Journal of Evaluation vol. 27 no. 1 (Mar. 2006)
This issue’s scenario, “To Participate or Not to Participate,” describes an evaluator’s shift in method from nonparticipant to participant observation. Although evaluation theorists differ on the extent to which methods decisions are ethical decisions (Morris, 1998), neither of the two commentators considers the methodological decision problematic; however, both raise issues about the process surrounding the change in observational approach. The first commentator focuses on how the methodological shift affects the responsibilities of the evaluator to the evaluation client. The second commentator notes that the scenario reflects the tension between evaluation for program improvement and evaluation for accountability. The evaluator’s responsibility for capacity building among the group that he or she becomes a part of is a consideration that is touched on in both commentaries but is not the focus of either statement. Scott Rosas, whose response to the scenario is presented first, is a senior program and policy analyst with Nemours Health and Prevention Services in the Center for Children’s Health Innovation. Dr. Rosas has a background in human development and family studies, with a focus on mental health preventive intervention models. His particular interest and expertise are in the area of assessment, problem identification, and theory-driven program evaluation.Valerie J. Caracelli, the second commentator, is a senior social science analyst at the U.S. Government Accountability Office. She is a past president of the Topical Interest Group on Evaluation Utilization and is known for her work on mixed-method evaluation.
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