Theories in Technology Evaluation
Theories in Technology Evaluation

Start this free course now. Just create an account and sign in. Enrol and complete the course for a free statement of participation or digital badge if available.

Free course

Theories in Technology Evaluation

1.1.1 Universalist or contingency?

Another example of the role theories and paradigms play in ‘doing’ evaluation – and one that is particularly important because of its implications for how we design and conduct evaluation – is the distinction between universalist and contingency views of the methods and approaches used to conduct evaluation and assessment.

The universalist position is that certain approaches and methods are superior to others no matter what the context. The most common manifestation of this argument is that quantitative methods are superior to qualitative methods (a topic I return to below). Of course, there are others who argue the reverse.

By contrast, the contingency view argues that there is no single best way to undertake evaluation. The choice of approaches and methods is contingent on the context, i.e. they are situational. A key task of evaluators is therefore to identify which methods and approaches are the best for a particular type of evaluation and context, and then ensure that these are applied. The contingency view is therefore based on an alternative paradigm from which to theorise, develop and utilise evaluation, with a consequent affect on the approaches and methods used.


Take your learning further

Making the decision to study can be a big step, which is why you'll want a trusted University. The Open University has 50 years’ experience delivering flexible learning and 170,000 students are studying with us right now. Take a look at all Open University courses.

If you are new to University-level study, we offer two introductory routes to our qualifications. You could either choose to start with an Access module, or a module which allows you to count your previous learning towards an Open University qualification. Read our guide on Where to take your learning next for more information.

Not ready for formal University study? Then browse over 1000 free courses on OpenLearn and sign up to our newsletter to hear about new free courses as they are released.

Every year, thousands of students decide to study with The Open University. With over 120 qualifications, we’ve got the right course for you.

Request an Open University prospectus371