Utility Tests

Utility tests offer a set of criteria for judging evaluations that parallels the more traditional validity tests for experimental research. Just as validity tests look for and attempt to counteract threats to validity, utility tests look for and attempt to counteract threats to utility. In a classic article that introduced the idea of utility tests, Weiss and Bucuvalas examined the criteria that decision makers employ in judging evaluation and policy research. They found that decision makers employ both truth tests and utility tests. Truth tests are a layperson's equivalent of a researcher's validity tests. Utility tests involve additional criteria that are conceptualized from the point of view of intended users:

  • Relevance. Does the evaluation relate to my needs and interests as a real-world decision maker?
  • Understandability. Can ...
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