Thomas Archibald, assistant professor in the Department of Agricultural and Extension Education, was recently awarded the 2013 Michael Scriven Dissertation Award for Outstanding Contribution to Evaluation Theory, Method, or Practice. This national award, which is sponsored by Western Michigan University’s Interdisciplinary Ph.D. in Evaluation program, is presented to a student whose doctoral dissertation represents a significant contribution to the theory, methodology, or practice of evaluation. Archibald received the award for his dissertation entitled “Evidence in Practice: A Study of ‘Evidence-Based’ Non-Formal Education.” His dissertation study focused on the politics of knowledge that are at play in various efforts to make non-formal community based education more closely connected to scientific evidence. Archibald’s study engaged with one of the most pressing issues facing applied social science and evaluation practice: what counts as credible evidence.
Archibald joined the Agricultural and Extension Education department in August 2013 after completing his doctoral work in Education at Cornell University. His research, teaching, and practice focus on evaluation and evaluation capacity building. As an Extension Specialist, he works closely with Virginia Cooperative Extension to enhance evaluation capacity throughout that organization. He also continues to examine some of the epistemological and methodological questions that emerged from his dissertation study on the politics of evidence in evaluation and social science.
Michael Scriven, in whose name this award is given, is widely considered one of the founders of the modern field of evaluation. Currently a professor at the Claremont Graduate University, he is a prolific and well-respected scholar in the fields of philosophy, psychology, critical thinking, mathematics, and, most notably, evaluation. Scriven’s work has been quite influential to his development as a young scholar, and Archibald is deeply honored to receive this award.