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Small-Scale Evaluation

Small-Scale Evaluation
Principles and Practice

Second Edition

September 2017 | 232 pages | SAGE Publications Ltd

Evaluation research can assess the value and effectiveness of interventions and innovations involving people. While this has often been on a grand scale, this book focuses on small-scale projects carried out by an individual or small group, typically lasting for weeks or at most a few months, at a local rather than national level. Using limited jargon and featuring integrated, real-world examples, this second edition offers a clear, accessible background to evaluation and prepares you to undertake your own small-scale evaluation research project.

Key features include discussion of:

  • Different approaches to evaluation and how to choose between them
  • The advantages and disadvantages of randomized controlled trials (RCTs)
  • Realist evaluation and its increasing importance
  • The centrality of ethical and political issues
  • The influence and opportunity of the Internet

Tightly focused on the realities of carrying out small-scale evaluation, Small-Scale Evaluation is a highly practical guide covering the needs of both social scientists and others without this background.

Colin Robson is an Emeritus Professor in the School of Human & Health Sciences at the University of Huddersfield.

Chapter 1: Introduction
Who is the book for?

What do you need to be able to carry out an evaluation?

Evaluation research

Small-scale evaluation research

The literature search

The Internet

Using the book

A note on 'Tasks'

Chapter 2: Evaluation: The What and the Why
What is evaluation?

Why evaluate?

Evaluation and social research

What do they think they want?

What are they going to find credible?

Chapter 3: The Advantages of Collaboration

Other models of involvement

Using consultants

Persuading others to be involved

When is some form of participatory evaluation indicated?

Chapter 4: Evaluation Designs
Different approaches to evaluation

Needs assessment

Outcome evaluation

Process evaluation

Combining process and outcome approaches

Formative and summative evaluation

Efficiency evaluation


Program monitoring

Theory-based evaluation

An interim summing up

Chapter 5: Designing Your Evaluation
Reviewing the 'literature'

Research questions

Methods of data collection

Data quality


Prespecified and emergent designs

Doing a shoe-string evaluation

Chapter 6: Ethical and Political Considerations
Ethical issues

The problem of unintended consequences

Evaluations involving children and other vulnerable populations

Ethical issues in online research

Ethical boards and committees

The politics of evaluation

Chapter 7: Practicalities
Time budgeting

Gaining access

Getting organized

Getting help and support

Chapter 8: Dealing with the Data
Coding data

Analysis and interpretation of quantitative data

Analysis and interpretation of qualitative data

Chapter 9: Communicating the Findings
Evaluation reports

Facilitating the implementation of evaluation findings

Chapter 10: Taking it further
Further reading


Appendix A: Chapter Tasks
Appendix B: Simple Evaluations

A masterfully written text making complex issues approachable and very workable! Robson’s personable style as if engaged in a conversation with the reader entices and enlightens. It is rare to find a text that to such an extent combines user-friendliness and an engaging style without compromising scientific stringency, ethics or practical usefulness and common sense. This is indeed a treasure trove for students and professionals of any kind and everywhere whose study or work involves people in groups and organisations in need of development, change or just a healthy reality check on how their organisation is doing.

Roland S Persson
Professor of Educational Psychology, Jönköping University, Sweden

This is a marvelous book. It communicates clearly and directly to the reader, making the subject accessible and usable rather than abstruse or forbidding.  Robson excels in thinking with the reader and getting the reader to think along with him, so that reading his work seems like collaborating with a helpful mentor.  Supported by many helpful diagrams and charts, he uses real-world situations, contexts, examples, and research literature to give the reader an understanding of how she might go about conducting actual research using this book as a guide.  He discusses the challenges a researcher can face in conducting evaluations, such as getting those being studied to collaborate in the research project, and the strengths and weaknesses, benefits and pitfalls of so doing. And it is of great value that his focus is specifically on small-scale evaluation, because that is the type of evaluation in which a student or budding researcher is most likely to be involved.  Robson is a great demystifier and guide--other research texts would benefit greatly from adopting Robson's style of thinking, writing, and guiding.

Jeremy J. Shapiro
Professor Emeritus, Fielding Graduate University

Sample Materials & Chapters

Chapter 2: Evaluation: The What and the Why

For instructors

Please contact your Academic Consultant to check inspection copy availability for your course.

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ISBN: 9781412962483
ISBN: 9781412962476

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