The Value in Validity


  • James C. Griffith,

    1. Claremont Graduation University
    2. Claremont Evaluation Center
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  • Bianca Montrosse-Moorhead

    1. Measurement, Evaluation and Assessment Program, University of Connecticut
    2. Collaborative on Strategic Education Reform (CSER), University of Connecticut
    3. Graduate Certificate Program in Program Evaluation, University of Connecticut
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House's classic Evaluating with Validity proposes three dimensions—truth, justice, and beauty—for evaluation validity. A challenge to achieving validity is balancing the priorities between these three dimensions when they conflict. This chapter examines the concept of validity and the values inherent in each of these dimensions and any choices between them. Our analysis of these inherent values and any prioritization between truth, justice, and beauty aims to help the evaluator confront the kinds of dilemmas faced when one's commitment to values, evaluation theories, or methodology comes up against conflicting realities for a particular evaluation. Striking an appropriate balance can be particularly challenging in contexts involving diverse cultures or even homogenous cultures of which the evaluator is not a part. We use two case examples to explore the issues in real-life contexts.