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Goal-free evaluation: A potential model for the evaluation of social work programs
American Evaluation Association (2013)
  • Brandon W. Youker, Ph.D, Grand Valley State University
  • Allyssa Ingraham, B.S., Grand Valley State University

Goal-free evaluation (GFE) is an evaluation model where the evaluator is deliberately kept from the stated (or implied) goals and objectives of the program; this is accomplished by appointing a screener to keep goal-related information from the goal-free evaluator. Screening the evaluator from program goals is designed to control bias inherent in goal-based evaluation (GBE), a bias that contaminates the evaluator’s ability to see the program’s true outcomes and true merit. Although GFE has been around for more than half a century, GBE continues to dominate evaluation practice and the literature on GFE remains sparse and highly theoretical. This article introduces social workers to GFE, provides a brief history of the model, discusses some of the theoretical arguments for and against it, and then attempts to articulate actual principles and operations for conducting a GFE.

  • goal-free evaluation,
  • goal,
  • social work,
  • methodology
Publication Date
Fall October, 2013
Citation Information
Brandon W. Youker and Allyssa Ingraham. "Goal-free evaluation: A potential model for the evaluation of social work programs" American Evaluation Association (2013)
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