Faculty Scholarly Dissemination Grants


Goal-Free Evaluation: A potential model for the evaluation of social work programs


School of Social Work


College of Community and Public Service

Date Range



Social and Behavioral Sciences


Goal-free evaluation (GFE) is an evaluation model where the evaluator is deliberately kept from the stated (or implied) goals and objectives of the program; this is accomplished by appointing a screener to keep goal-related information from the goal-free evaluator. Screening the evaluator from program goals is designed to control bias inherent in goal-based evaluation (GBE), a bias that contaminates the evaluators ability to see the programs true outcomes and true merit. Although GFE has been around for more than half a century, GBE continues to dominate evaluation practice and the literature on GFE remains sparse and highly theoretical. This article introduces social workers to GFE, provides a brief history of the model, discusses some of the theoretical arguments for and against it, and then attempts to articulate actual principles and operations for conducting a GFE.

Conference Name

American Evaluation Association Annual Conference

Conference Location

Washington DC

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