Ethics in program evaluation

peer 1
When completing an evaluation, the evaluator must be conscious of various ethical issues and concerns that may occur.  One ethical concern is that of informed consent.  All participants and stakeholders must be willing to participate in the evaluation.  According to Holm-Hansen, participants have the right to: choose whether or not to participate without penalties (participation should not be a requirement for receiving services), withdraw their participation at any time, and refuse to complete any part of the project (October 2007).  In the case of the program I have chosen to evaluate, there are a large number of stakeholders; from the committees, to the nominees, to the judge’s/jury members, to the local citizens and organizations that benefit from the program.  When addressing the ethical concern of informed consent, I must realize how each stakeholder is involved in the program and then let them know their purpose and benefit of participation with the evaluation.  This will allow me to efficiently and adequately address the ethical concern of informed consent.
A second ethical concern is that of confidentiality.  Confidentiality is an important ethical concern in most aspects of life, and completing an evaluation is no different.  To ensure confidentiality, an evaluator must: collect data in a private location where surveys cannot be seen and interviews cannot be overheard, do not discuss information about individual participants with other people, keep completed surveys or interviews in a secure location where they cannot be seen by other people, and securely dispose of completed material when it is no longer needed (Holms-Hansen, 2007).  To ensure confidentiality when evaluating my chosen program, it is critical that I do not complete any interviews and/or surveys in public areas, but rather complete them in individual offices or in a non-occupied interview/conference rooms.  Another important aspect is to not lay completed surveys or interview notes where others may see.  If for instance, I conduct an interview before my volunteer shift, I must not put this interview with my other belongings, unless they are locked in a locker.
A final ethical concern has to do with the evaluator’s roles and the ethical issues that may develop within the role.  There are four standards that an evaluator must follow and they are: utility, feasibility, propriety, and accuracy.  When following utility, an evaluator must make sure evaluations address important questions, provide clear and understandable results, and include meaningful recommendations (Holms-Hansen, 2007).  Accuracy is also a very important standard that should be followed by the evaluator.  The information should be collected, analyzed, reported and interpreted accurately and impartially.  Ensuring accurate and un-bias information is collected and reported is necessary for an evaluator to provide the most ethical and beneficial evaluation for a program.
Ethics in program evaluation
Ethics, the discipline of right, morals and principles that guide behaviors is especially important topic in the evaluation of programs . An effective ethics program provides tremendous benefits by detecting unethical behavior that can devastate an organization.
Ethics can be effective by rooting the ethics in core values and integrity. Any breaches found will be reported in a confidential manner, making sure that ethical issues are incorporated in the training programs.
Essential elements of ethics include assurances of support of the policies from organizational leadership, practical, guidance on what is expected regarding ethical issues, commitments concerning stakeholder’s relationships, details of implementation and monitoring of the ethics, and consequences of misconduct. All theses need to be implemented for people have adequate evaluation.
Ethical lapse can occur during evaluation which is simply a mistake or error in judgment that produces a harmful outcome. This doesn’t necessarily mean a lack of integrity but just an oversight or ethical blind sport.                 Ethical lapses can be small or large and can be publicized or kept private. Their action may not be listed or traditional source or religious dogma but still is a lapse in ethics.  Sometimes people act unethically simply because they have something to gain at others’ expense, and that is where lapse of conscience occurs. When evaluators do this, it will affect the outcome of the evaluation.
Ethical guidelines need to be followed, evaluations should address important questions provide clear and understandable results with meaning for recommendations. Evaluations also should be feasible so to be completed in a timely manner and cost efficient manner. It should be legal and ethical, most importantly must be reported accountably and impartially. We all know that it is not always the case due human self interest instead of the public.
Ethical issues during formulations of evaluation plan should include informed consent where the participant is fully informed about the evaluation being conducted.  No one should be forced to do anything without signing the consent form which will protect both parties anyway. Participants are should be free to withdraw anytime without penalty. NO harm should be done during evaluation process unintentionally or not. Confidentiality is very crucial, no one access the information except the coordinator.  Identity of the participant remains unknown to the team and any relevant components can be accessed focusing on the intentions of the evaluation not self interest.
Evaluation helps evaluators to make choices among future course of action. Careful and unbiased data on the consequences of programs should improve decision making. Any evaluators who fail to recognize this is not doing the job right.
Three political ethical concerns for an evaluation are as follows; ethical behaviors, politics and standards and guiding principles of evaluation. Ethics are complicated, now law and standard can cover every possible situation. Some behaviors can be legal but still unethical. Sometimes evaluators may be convinced to go against ethical standards like willingness to trust  and produce positive findings due to conflict of interests. There could be personal prejudices or preconceived notions. Sometimes promises not kept and failure to honor commitment makes evaluators in unprofessional ways.
Politics can determine the integrity of an evaluation, sometimes people being evaluated avoid unwanted formal scrutiny of their activities’ by denying need for evaluation.

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