Evaluation or evaluation research refers to an investigation of something which leads to a normative assessment or statement (1). Evaluation can be defined as the use of scientific methods and procedures in order to obtain and process information for comparing real or hypothetical events to normative criteria and values, which, to the extent possible, should be scientifically founded (2). This is done in order to obtain guidelines for the future planning and realization of such events.
This means that the normative statement has to be intersubjective, reproducible, controllable, and logically consistent (3). The criteria and values used can be results of empirical research or they can be given, e.g. by the client. However, they have to be analysed and questioned methodologically and theoretically in order to maintain scientific standards. Also with these limitations the concept of evaluation is still very general and unprecise. This results from a large variety of objects of evaluation, purposes of evaluation, points in time when evaluations are made, and of receivers to whom the results are directed. Therefore evaluation can be only a general concept which has to be more specified.
For an evaluation at least two steps are required: - the analysis and description of the event or system to be evaluated, - the normative assessment of the event or system using appropriate criteria. Apart from this, all methods of empirical research can be used depending on the particular case. (Hornung)
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