Social Validation as a Program Evaluation Measure


  • James W Halle
  • Therese E Boyer
  • Candace Ashton-Shaeffer


Social Validity, Consumer Satisfaction, Program Evaluation, Therapeutic Recreation, Triangulation


Two types of criteria may be invoked in the evaluation of a program: experimental and therapeutic. The fonner is the one most familiar to researchers and practitioners in therapeutic recreation. It refers to requirements that must be met to infer that the program caused the desired outcome (i.e., threats to internal validity are made implausible). The purpose of this paper is to advocate the adoption of a therapeutic or clinical criterion as an adjunct to the experimental criterion. A therapeutic criterion refers to the clinical significance of the change produced. Comprehensive and functional evaluation cannot be claimed until both criteria are considered. In this paper, the therapeutic criterion is expanded to encompass the concept ofsocial validity which includes an evaluation ofnot only program outcomes, but also the goals and procedures of the program. The application of social validation in medical and recreational settings has begun and a few examples are reviewed briefly. Finally, a case example is presented that illustrates the implementation of social validation in the evaluation of an exercise program for students with moderate and severe disabilities.





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