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A black box is an evaluation of program outcomes without the benefit of an articulated program theory to provide insight into what is presumed to be causing those outcomes and why. Black box evaluation refers to those evaluations that examine the outputs of a program without examining its internal operation and processes. Black box evaluations serve well when consumers evaluate manufactured objects such as cars or TVs; consumers need to know which cars perform better than others, not why. This type of evaluation does not serve well when social programs are being evaluated and the evaluation is expected to lead to continuous program quality improvement.

Marco A. Muñoz
10.4135/9781412950558.n53
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