Publications Writing

Consumer-Oriented Evaluation Approach: The SAGE Encyclopedia of Educational Research, Measurement, and Evaluation

The term inputs refers to the resources made available to a program, policy, or curriculum to enable its operation. More precisely, inputs provide the antecedent conditions from which some programmatic activities are to occur and, as a consequence, achieve some predetermined objectives. Put simply, inputs are what get invested to do the work.

Suggested Citation: Lam, C. Y. (2018). Consumer-Oriented Evaluation Approach. In The SAGE Encyclopedia of Educational Research, Measurement, and Evaluation (pp. 390-392). Thousand Oaks, SAGE. 

“The consumer-oriented approach to evaluation is the evaluation orientation advocated by evaluation expert and philosopher Michael Scriven. The approach stems from the belief that evaluation ought to serve the consumer, that is, the ultimate end user of the particular object under evaluation, the evaluand—be it a program, a curriculum, a policy, a product, or a service. This entry first discusses the history and the key aspects of the consumer-oriented evaluation approach, including the centrality of the consumer, the goal of the evaluation, and the role of the evaluation and the evaluator. It then looks at the techniques used in consumer- oriented evaluation, the checklist developed by Scriven for this evaluation approach, and the advantages and challenges of the approach.

The consumer-oriented evaluation approach arose in the 1960s in reaction to the then- prevailing stances that saw evaluation as an exercise in value-free measurement of whether program goals were achieved. The consumer-oriented evaluation approach reminds evaluators, and those who commission and use evaluation, that an evaluation ought to produce a determination about the merit, worth, and/or significance of the evaluand and that the basis of evaluation ought to be referenced to the needs of consumers.”


By Chi Yan Lam

Dr. Chi Yan Lam is a Credentialed Evaluator and an Adjunct Assistant Professor of evaluation at the Faculty of Education and the Faculty of Health Sciences, Queen’s University; he is also a full-time evaluator practicing in public service. He specializes in evaluating large-scale, complex programs and incorporates multi-, mixed- and design methods in his evaluations to answer questions of importance to program administrators and policy makers working on educational and social programs. His articles on evaluation have been published in peer-reviewed journals, including the American Journal of Evaluation and the Canadian Journal of Program Evaluation. He has been a holder of the professional designation in evaluation since 2014.

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