Perspectives on evaluation

You’ve probably come across different perspectives on how to conduct an objective evaluation. Here are two perspectives:

Perspective 1

An established perspective argues that evaluation should strive to maintain objectivity so that “the claims, methods and results of science [evaluation] are not, or should not be influenced by particular perspectives, value commitments, community bias or personal interests, to name a few relevant factors.“ (Reiss & Sprenger, 2014, para 1).

Perspective 2

“There is no such thing as objective evaluation.”

Reflection point

Spend a few minutes reflecting on the two perspectives. Do you agree with one more than another? Why?

Remember that:

  • evaluations take place within a specific context, which makes objectivity very difficult
  • evaluations are limited by the knowledge and skills of the evaluators involved
  • the scope of an evaluation is limited to the resources at the disposal of the evaluators (Bergmann, 2010, p.23)

Talking point

Is there such a thing as objective evaluation? Relate the answer to your own experience and share.


Bergman, M. M. (2010). Evaluation methods and processes : tensions between expectations, resources and competencies. LeGes, 21 (1), 23-31.

Reiss, J. & Sprenger, J. (2014). Scientific Objectivity. In The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. The Metaphysics Research Lab and Center for the Study of Language and Information (CSLI), Stanford University. (If you are interested in a detailed philosophical argument around objectivity in evaluation.)

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This article is from the free online course:

Introduction to Enhancing Learning and Teaching in Higher Education

UNSW Sydney