Professional Development Workshops

The 2010 Claremont Evaluation Debate:

“Using Systems Theories to Improve Evaluation Practice: Promise and Pitfalls”
August 21, 2010

Systems theories have been put forth as one of the latest innovations to improve evaluation practice. What are they? How can they be used to improve evaluation practice? When should they be used? When should they be avoided? What are their limitations? Is systems thinking in evaluation the latest short lived fad or a legitimate breakthrough? The answers to these questions were discussed and debated head-to-head in Claremont on August 21, 2010.

The Promise of System Theories: Dr. Michael Quinn Patton and Dr. Bob Williams

The Pitfalls of System Theories: Dr. Michael Scriven and Dr. Stewart Donaldson

All in the evaluation community were invited to join Claremont Graduate University online or on campus in Southern California to witness the ongoing debate about the future of evaluation practice. This event was co-sponsored by Claremont Graduate University and the Southern California Evaluation Association.

Location: Ron D. Burkle Family Building, Room 16, 1021 North Dartmouth Ave, Claremont CA 91711.

Professional Development Workshops

This event was part of our Summer 2010 Professional Development Workshop Series. Follow the link to see the full series, which included 16 on-site workshops and 8 live workshop webcasts.

Previous Debates

Claremont Graduate University has hosted a number of classic discussions and confrontations around the issues central to Evaluation in previous years. Videos and transcripts of some of these events are available below.


August 23, 2009
Michael Quinn Patton and Michael Scriven
Utilization-Focused Evaluation: Its Promise (Patton) and Pitfalls (Scriven

August 24, 2009
David Fetterman, Michael Scriven and Michael Quinn Patton
Empowerment Evaluation: Its Promise (Fetterman) and Pitfalls (Scriven & Patton

August 19, 2006
Leonard Bickman, Gary T. Henry, Michael Scriven, Sandra Mathison, Jennifer Greene, Thomas Schwandt, and Sharon F. Rallis
The Limitations of Non-Experimental Approaches – A Panel Discussion

August 19, 2006
Michael Scriven, Jennifer Greene, Sharon F. Rallis, Sandra Mathison, and Thomas Schwandt
The Limitations of Experimental Approaches – A Panel Discussion

July 15, 2004
Mark Lipsey and Michael Scriven
Determining Causality in Program Evaluation and Applied Research:
Should Experimental Evidence be the Gold Standard

You are invited to explore our entire library of online videos on evaluation and applied psychology by following this link.

Debate Transcripts

Donaldson, S.I., Patton, M.Q., Fetterman, D., & Scriven, M. (2010). The 2009 Claremont Debates: The Promise and Pitfalls of Utilization-Focused and Empowerment Evaluation. Journal of MultiDisciplinary Evaluation, (6, 13), 15-57.

Donaldson, S.I., Christie, C. A., & Mark, M.M. (2008). What counts as credible evidence in applied research and evaluation practice? Newbury Park, CA: Sage.

Donaldson, S.I., & Christie, C.A. (2005). The 2004 Claremont Debate: Lipsey versus Scriven. Determining causality in program evaluation and applied research: Should experimental evidence be the gold standard? Journal of Multidisciplinary Evaluation, 3, 60-77.

Donaldson, S.I. & Scriven, M. (2003). Evaluating social programs and problems: Visions for the new millennium. Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.