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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Social and Political Science : Postgrad (School of Social and Political Studies)

Postgraduate Course: Evaluation Research Methods (PGSP11373)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Social and Political Science CollegeCollege of Humanities and Social Science
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummarySocial policies and interventions are increasingly expected to be evaluated in order to demonstrate their usefulness. Despite the growth in evaluation research, academics and others who conduct evaluations often do not have any specific evaluation training. This course will provide such a training, equipping students with a grounding in evaluation methods to enable them to carry out small scale pieces of evaluation research.
Course description When considering a wide range of policies and interventions that are intended to create positive change in society, a key question for researchers, policy makers, practitioners and others is: 'Does it work?' However, establishing the way such policies and interventions 'work', and the impact that they have, can be complex. This course is intended to help students develop a critical understanding of both the theoretical and practical aspects of evaluation research. Students will learn about key concepts and approaches to evaluation, including experimental and qualitative approaches, realistic evaluation and cost-benefit analysis. The course also engages with the context of evaluation, including political influences, as well as ethical issues, practical issues, knowledge exchange and the dissemination of evaluation findings. By the end of the course, students should be able to critically assess the quality of existing examples of evaluation research as well as plan their own evaluation.

Outline Content

In the workshops students will be introduced to key concepts and types of evaluation research; logic modelling; qualitative and quantitative approaches to evaluation; ethics and dissemination, knowledge exchange and impact in relation to evaluation. Each of these areas will be supported by face-to-face teaching from a range of academic staff and contributors from the field. Workshop sessions will be augmented by online material and recommended reading on the same themes.

The course is delivered through blended learning. This means that students will engage in a combination of online learning and face-to-face sessions during the course.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Information for Visiting Students
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2018/19, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  25
Course Start Semester 2
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Supervised Practical/Workshop/Studio Hours 10, Online Activities 30, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 156 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) In order to attain the mark for each week, the student┐s contribution must demonstrate engagement with the set readings and resources for that week and show a satisfactory level of consideration with respect to the task. Each satisfactorily completed task is worth 1% for a total of 10% of the final mark.

The remaining 90% of the mark will be assessed through an essay.

Students should choose one of the following two assignments to work on; for those students undertaking a placement as part of their programmes, the second might be a better option. Please discuss your choice with the Course Organiser if you are uncertain which to do.

Maximum submission word length (not including references): 3,500 words.

Either: A critique of published evaluation
Students will select a published evaluation report and write a critical essay in response to the report, describing the study and critically evaluating its strengths and weaknesses as a piece of evaluation.

Or: An evaluation plan
Students will plan an evaluation of a particular intervention, service or policy (this could be an evaluation which they actually intend to undertake), outlining their approach, methods of data collection and analysis, ethics, potential resource constraints and knowledge exchange strategies. The plan should be properly referenced throughout in the usual way.
Feedback Written feedback is provided on the weekly tasks. Students are also given opportunities within class to discuss any learning arising from the weekly tasks.

Opportunities are provided to discuss essay ideas and plans

Full written feedback is provided on the final assignment.
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Demonstrate a critical understanding of the theoretical basis, key concepts and different types of evaluation research
  2. Have a critical awareness of key approaches and methods for evaluation research
  3. Critically assess evaluation research in order to identity its strengths, weaknesses and relative merits
  4. Understand the processes and issues related to undertaking evaluation research
  5. Plan the evaluation of an intervention or service, taking into account relevant contextual and practical issues
Reading List
Bamberger, M. Rugh, J. & Mabry, L. (2012). Real world evaluation (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, California: Sage.
Pawson, R. & Tilley, N. (1997). Realistic evaluation. London: Sage.
Abma, T.A. and Widdershoven, G.A.M. (2011) 'Evaluation as relationally responsible practice', in Denzin, N.K. and Lincoln, Y.S. (eds) The SAGE Handbook of Qualitative Research, Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
Cellini, S. R. & Kee, J. E. (2010). Cost-effectiveness and cost-benefit analysis. J. S. Wholey, H. P. Hatry & K. E. Newcomer (Eds.), Handbook of Practical Program Evaluation (3rd Ed.) (pp. 493-530). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Gallagher, M., Wilkinson, H., and Smith, M (2012) 'A collaborative approach to research and impact: lessons from a knowledge exchange project involving academics and social work practitioners, Evidence and Policy, 8 (3), 311 - 328.
Nutley, S. M., Walter, I., & Davies, H. T. O. (2007). Using evidence: How research can inform public services. Bristol: The Policy Press
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Students will gain a range of skills relating to the critical assessment of evaluation research and the practical application of evaluation. These skills will be relevant to a range of work settings including the design, management, delivery and evaluation of various policies and interventions.
KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserDr Steve Kirkwood
Tel: (0131 6)50 6646
Course secretaryMr Jack Smith
Tel: (0131 6)51 1485
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