Evaluations that respond: prescription, application, and implications of responsive evaluation theory for community college instructional support programs

This study examines two community college instructional support programs to explore the effectiveness of an evaluation model responsive evaluation theory that may ease the tensions between a concern over programs' processes and reporting requirements for program outcomes. The study uses a comparative qualitative case study design and applies responsive evaluation's prescriptive steps to assess the research questions: How effectively does responsive evaluation theory operate as an evaluation model? How does responsive evaluation theory articulate with systematic evaluation theories? Results indicate that responsive evaluation can be an effective model if evaluators consult program faculty and staff, who in turn express an interest in building a collaborative evaluation, and if the purpose of the evaluation is to examine process-oriented issues. Results further indicate that responsive and systematic evaluation models articulate well in that outcomes-oriented issues can be examined within the context of a responsive evaluation. Finally, results demonstrate that the responsive evaluation process can be highly politicized and, consequently, addresses the concerns of stakeholders to varying degrees.