Context is a force in evaluation. It shapes our practice,influencing how we approach and design our studies, how we carrythem out, and how we report our findings. Context also moderatesand mediates the outcomes of the programs and policies weevaluate.
This issue focuses squarely on the role that context playsin practice and illuminates its effect on the implementation andoutcomes of programs. Exploring the ways in which attending tocontext may improve the quality of evaluation practice, thecontributions span theory, methods, and practice in an effort tomove to a more comprehensive conceptualization of context that canguide our work. It:
* Provides an historical and theoretical view ofevaluators' treatment of context
* Illustrates how context has influenced evaluation practice
* Presents a five-area framework for guiding a contextualanalysis of evaluations
* Introduces "context assessment," which provides ameans of integrating context and its implications within theimportant stages of evaluation.
This is the 135th volume of the Jossey-Bass quarterlyreport series New Directions for Evaluation, an officialpublication of the American Evaluation Association.