Program evaluation in Social work: Utilization results


  1. Persuasive utilization
  2. Direct (instrumental) utilization
  3. Conceptual utilization
  4. Variables affecting utilization
  5. Guidelines for maximizing utilization

Persuasive utilization

The use of evaluation results to persuade an audience to support or oppose an agenda is referred to as persuasive utilisation. Evaluators aren't interested in this type of use unless the 'persuader' is the same person who conducted the evaluation because they can't always predict future persuasion efforts.

Direct (instrumental) utilization

Evaluators frequently tailor their assessments to produce outcomes that can have a direct impact on a program's structure or process. The evaluation of a novel educational intervention, for example, may yield results that show no improvement in students' grades. This could be because the intervention lacks a solid theoretical foundation, or it could be because it is not carried out as intended. The evaluation results should prompt the intervention's creators to go back to the drawing board and re-create the intervention's core structure, or even change the implementation processes.

Conceptual utilization

Even if evaluation results do not have a direct impact on programme reshaping, they can still be used to raise awareness of the issues that the programme is attempting to address. Returning to the example of a novel educational intervention evaluation, the findings can be used to inform educators and students about the various barriers that may influence students' learning difficulties. This new information may prompt a number of studies into these barriers.

Variables affecting utilization 

Relevance, communication between the evaluators and the users of the results, information processing by the users, the plausibility of the results, and the level of involvement or advocacy of the users all appear to influence the utility of evaluation results.

Guidelines for maximizing utilization

Quoted directly from Rossi et al.
  • Evaluators must understand the cognitive styles of decisionmakers 
  • Evaluation results must be timely and available when needed 
  • Evaluations must respect stakeholders' program commitments 
  • Utilization and dissemination plans should be part of the evaluation design 
  • Evaluations should include an assessment of utilization


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