What, How, and Why? A Comparative Analysis of 12 Goal-Free Evaluations

Main Article Content

Brandon W. Youker


Background: Goal-free evaluation (GFE) is any evaluation in which the evaluator conducts the evaluation without reference to predetermined goals or objectives.  


Purpose: The purpose of this study is to examine GFE in actual practice focusing on what GFE is, how it is conducted, and why the evaluators use it.


Setting: Not applicable.


Intervention: Not applicable.


Research Design:  Document analysis.

Data Collection and Analysis: The researcher collected data from a non-random sample of 12 cases of GFE found in published and non-published papers, reports, and guidebooks. The researcher analyzed the documents using quantitative and qualitative content analysis.


Findings: The findings suggest that goal-free evaluators consider GFE an outcome evaluation that supplements GBE. These goal-free evaluators typically used an ex post facto evaluation design, non-random sampling of stakeholders, and semi-structured interviewing to collect data. The evaluators described using GFE to improve the evaluand, to find side-effects, and to evaluate highly complex evaluands.



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Article Details

How to Cite
Youker, B. W. (2019). What, How, and Why? A Comparative Analysis of 12 Goal-Free Evaluations. Journal of MultiDisciplinary Evaluation, 15(33), 16–29. https://doi.org/10.56645/jmde.v15i33.444
Author Biography

Brandon W. Youker, Grand Valley State University

Assistant Professor, School of Social Work