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Thomas G. Archibald

Ph.D., Adult & Extension Education, 2013, Cornell University, Department of Education, Ithaca, NY

M.S., Adult & Extension Education, 2012, Cornell University, Department of Education, Ithaca, NY

B.S., Animal Science, 2002, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY

My research is on program planning and evaluation in non-formal education. More specifically, I have recently focused on three overlapping areas of inquiry:

1. Evaluation capacity building (ECB) and evaluative thinking;

2. Evidence-based programs, evidence-based practices, and translational research for research-practice integration; and

3. Participatory and collaborative research and evaluation.

Throughout all three areas, my work is informed by a cross-cutting focus on issues of power, participation, epistemology, and methodology.

In the domain of ECB, I focus on approaches to strengthening the individual and institutional capacity of non-formal educators to evaluate their own programs, drawing on a variety of evaluation paradigms such as systems evaluation, theory-driven evaluation, collaborative and participatory evaluation, and developmental evaluation.

In my focus on research-practice integration, I examine the practices involved in various approaches to “bridging the research-practice gap.” Some dominant approaches emphasize “evidence-based programs,” in which “evidence” refers only to that which is produced through a randomized controlled trial (RCT). My research offers new perspectives on the politics of knowledge that enact and are enacted by the “evidence-based” movements.

The primary setting for my research is the Cooperative Extension system, though I also focus on other non-formal, community-based education initiatives both domestically and internationally.

My extension and research work are highly integrated, especially since Cooperative Extension is the primary site of my research. With a 70% Extension appointment, I am honored to have the opportunity to work closely with agents, specialists, and administrators in the Virginia Cooperative Extension (VCE) system, focusing on issues of evaluation and evaluation capacity. The overarching goal that guides my Extension work is to help foster a culture of evaluation within VCE, whereby a critical mass of VCE professionals have the knowledge, skills, and attitudes necessary for wide-spread, sustained, and high-quality evaluation across the system. Achieving this goal requires building on existing strengths, listening to and learning from the needs of diverse stakeholders pertaining to evaluation, and crafting a system of evaluation capacity building (ECB) and technical assistance that meets VCE’s needs. I will collaborate with others in the VCE system to establish and facilitate a monitoring and evaluation system that supports continuous learning, adaptive management for program improvement, and accountability. I envision an evaluation system in VCE that leads the nation and is a benchmark for success within the fields of extension evaluation and ECB.

Buckley, J., Archibald, T., Hargraves, M., & Trochim, W. M. (2015). Defining and teaching evaluative thinking: Insights from research on critical thinking. American Journal of Evaluation, 36(3) 375-388. doi:10.1177/1098214015581706

Archibald, T. (2015). “They just know”: The epistemological politics of “evidence-based” non-formal education. Evaluation and Program Planning, 48, 137-148. doi:10.1016/j.evalprogplan.2014.08.001

Urban, J. B., Burgermaster, M., Archibald, T., & Byrne, A. (2015). Relationships between quantitative measures of evaluation plan and program modeling quality and a qualitative measure of participant perceptions of an evaluation capacity building approach. Journal of Mixed Methods Research, 9(2), 154-177. doi:10.1177/1558689813516388

Trochim, W., Urban, J. B., Hargraves, M., Hebbard, C., Buckley, J., Archibald, T., Johnson, M., & Burgermaster, M. (2012). The Guide to the Systems Evaluation Protocol (V2.2). Ithaca NY. Available online at: