Contemporary thinking about causation in evaluation: A dialogue with tom cook and michael scriven

Thomas D. Cook, Michael Scriven, Chris L S Coryn, Stephanie D H Evergreen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

47 Scopus citations


Legitimate knowledge claims about causation have been a central concern among evaluators and applied researchers for several decades and often have been the subject of heated debates. In recent years these debates have resurfaced with a renewed intensity, due in part to the priority currently being given to randomized experiments by many funders of evaluation studies, such as the Institute for Educational Sciences. In this dialogue, which took place at Western Michigan University in October 2008, two of the field's leading theorists and methodologists, Thomas D. Cook and Michael Scriven, described their current thinking and views about causation and causal inference in evaluation. They also discussed recent methodological developments for cause-probing investigations that sometimes produce results comparable to those produced by randomized experiments. Both Cook and Scriven prepared clarifying postscripts after reading the edited transcript.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)105-117
Number of pages13
JournalAmerican Journal of Evaluation
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2010


  • Causal inference
  • Causation
  • Methodology
  • Randomized controlled trials

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business and International Management
  • Social Psychology
  • Health(social science)
  • Education
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Strategy and Management


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