Probative, dialectic, and moral reasoning in program evaluation

Christopher Migotsky, Robert Stake, Rita Davis, Brent Williams, Gary DePaul, Edith J. Cisneros, Edna Johnson, Joan Feltovich

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Current idealized evaluation practices are often modeled on a probative, criteria and standards-based approach endorsed by Michael Scriven. The authors find this logical, rule-governed approach insufficient for most program evaluations. By focusing on more technical aspects of the evaluand and the evaluative process, important and valid evaluand characteristics and stakeholder viewpoints can be lost or marginalized. The authors believe a dialectical evaluation process will generate fuller representations of quality while also treating the evaluand as more than simply a technical object. In this article, the authors summarize the probative evaluation approach, discuss aspects of moral reasoning that may limit this standards-based model, and propose an alternative dialectical persuasion.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)453-467
Number of pages15
JournalQualitative Inquiry
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1997

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anthropology
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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