Evaluating effectiveness from the practitioner perspective

Martin A. Elks, Karen E. Kirkhart

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


Although systematic evaluation has been conceptualized as a tool for improving human services programs, relatively little evidence exists that shows how evaluative information is used to enhance direct clinical practice. Quantitative studies of clinical use of evaluation have shed little light on the research-practice linkage. The authors report the results of a qualitative study of 17 social workers designed to develop a more complete understanding of how practitioners evaluate themselves in their day-to-day practice. Three main findings emerged from the interviews: (I) an acknowledged difficulty in really knowing one's effectiveness; (2) a perceived incompatibility between evaluation and practice; and (3) the presence of an implicit model of self-evaluation comprising five components: intuition and experience, personal and professional issues, client change, business aspects, and the therapist-client relationship. Several social work implications for the teaching of self-evaluation in schools of social work and for clinical practice are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)554-563
Number of pages10
JournalSocial Work (United States)
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 1993


  • Effectiveness
  • Evaluation
  • Practice
  • Self-evaluation model

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science


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