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Thomas A. Schwandt

Profile Picture for Thomas A. Schwandt

Professor Emeritus, Educational Psychology, Center for Culturally Responsive Evaluation and Assessment


Education Building
1310 S. Sixth St.
Champaign, IL 61820

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Thomas A. Schwandt


Thomas A. Schwandt is Professor of Education at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign where he holds appointments in the Department of Educational Psychology, the Department of Educational Policy, Organization, and Leadership and the Unit for Criticism and Interpretive Theory. He has won several awards for his teaching including being named University Distinguished Teacher-Scholar in 2003; receiving the campus award for Excellence in Graduate and Professional Teaching in 2006; and receiving the Distinguished Teaching Career Award from the College of Education in 2012. He is a Fellow of the American Educational Research Association and in 2002 received the Paul F. Lazarsfeld Award from the American Evaluation Association for his contributions to evaluation theory. He is past editor of the American Journal of Evaluation. His latest book, Evaluation Foundations Revisited: Cultivating a Life of the Mind for Practice will be published by Stanford University Press in 2015.

Key Professional Appointments

Affiliate, Educational Policy, Organization & Leadership, University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign, 2003 - present

Affiliate, Unit for Criticism and Interpretive Theory, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 2000 - present

Professor, Educational Psychology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 2000 - present

Chair, Educational Psychology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 2007 - 2011

Professor, School of Education, Indiana University, Bloomington, 1998 - 2000

Associate Professor, School of Education, Indiana University, Bloomington, 1989 - 1998


Ph.D., Inquiry Methodology, Indiana University, Bloomington, 1984

B.A., English Literature, Valparaiso University, 1970

Awards, Honors, Associations

Paul F. Lazarsfeld Award, American Evaluation Association, 2002 - 2002

Distinguished Teacher/Scholar, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 2003 - 2013

Distinguished Teaching Career Award, Awards Committee, 2012 - 2012

Distinguished Teaching Career Award, College of Education, 2012 - 2012

Fellow, American Educational Research Association, 2010 - present

Campus Award for Excellence in Gradute & Professional Teaching, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 2006 - 2006

Senior College Scholar, College of Education, 2002 - 2002

Teaching Excellence Recognition Award, Indiana University, 1998 - 1998

Research & Service

My scholarship is primarily focused on the intersection of social research and practical philosophy. My work is heavily influenced by the tradition of philosophical hermeneutics and the insights we can draw from that body of work for the way we think about the practices of evaluation and research. These kinds of investigations include questions about the meaning of human action, the nature of practice, the nature of understanding in the social/human sciences, the status and validity of the knowledge produced through evaluation and social research, the role of experts and expert knowledge in shaping policy and practice, the role of dialogue and critical reflection in developing understanding, and so on. In addition, as a student of methodology, I investigate matters concerning the ethics of research and the status and role of evidence in arguments made in social science.


Schwandt, T. (2015). Evaluation Foundations Revisited: Cultivating a Life of the Mind for Practice. Stanford, CA, USA: Stanford University Press.  link >

Schwandt, T. (2015). Dictionary of Qualitative Inquiry, 4th ed ( 4th ed). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Schwandt, T. (2014). On the mutually informing relationship between practice and theory in evaluation American Journal of Evaluation, 35 231-236.

Schwandt, T., & Cash, T. (2014). The origins, meaning and significance of qualitative inquiry in evaluation. Qualitative Inquiry in the Practice of Evaluation San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Dahler-Larsen, P., & Schwandt, T. (2012). Political culture as context for evaluation. New Directions for Evaluation, (135), 75-87.

Prewitt, K., Schwandt, T., & Straff, M. (2012). Using Science as Evidence in Public Policy Washington, DC: National Academies Press.  link >

Schwandt, T. (2009). Globalizing influences on the Western evaluation imaginary. Sage international handbook on educational evaluation Los Angeles: Sage.

Schwandt, T. (2009). Toward a practical theory of evidence for evaluation. What counts as credible evidence in applied research and contemporary evaluation practice ( pp. 197-212). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Schwandt, T. (2008). Educating for intelligent belief in evaluation. American Journal of Evaluation, 29 (2), 139-150.

Schwandt, T. (2007). Dictionary of qualitative inquiry, (3rd edition) Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Schwandt, T. (2007). On the importance of revisiting the study of ethics in evaluation. Dilemmas of engagement: Evaluation and the new public management Greenwich, CT: JAI Press.

Somekh, B., & Schwandt, T. (2007). Knowledge production: Research work in interesting times London: Routledge.

Schwandt, T. (2006). Opposition redirected. International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education, 19 (6), 803-810.

Schwandt, T., & Burgon, H. (2006). Evaluation and the study of lived experience. The Sage handbook of evaluation ( pp. 98-117). London: Sage.

Schwandt, T. (2005). A diagnostic reading of scientifically-based research for education. Educational Theory, 55 (3), 285-305.

Schwandt, T. (2005). On modeling our understanding of the practice fields. Pedagogy, Culture, and Society, 13 (3), 313-332.

Schwandt, T. (2005). The centrality of practice to evaluation. American Journal of Evaluation, 26 (1), 95-105.

Schwandt, T. (2004). Evaluating holistic evaluation praxis Oslo, Norway: Kommuneforlaget AS.

Schwandt, T. (2004). Hermeneutics: A poetics of inquiry versus a methodology for research. Perspectives on the nature of educational research London: Ashgate.

Schwandt, T., & Jang, E. (2004). Linking validity and ethics in language testing: Insights from the hermeneutic turn in social science. Studies in Educational Evaluation, 30 265-280.

Haug, P., & Schwandt, T. (2003). Evaluating educational reforms: Scandinavian perspectives Greenwich, CT: Information Age Press.

Schwandt, T. (2002). Evaluation practice reconsidered New York: Peter Lang.

Schwandt, T. (2001). A post script on thinking about dialogue. Evaluation, 7 (2), 275-288.

Schwandt, T. (2001). Dictionary of qualitative inquiry (2nd rev. ed.) Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Schwandt, T. (2001). Responsiveness and everyday life. Responsive evaluation. New Directions for Evaluation, 92 73-88.

Schwandt, T. (2000). Three epistemological stances for qualitative inquiry: Interpretivism, hermeneutics, and social constructionism. The handbook of qualitative research ( 2nd ed). Newbury Park, CA: Sage.


Revisiting the Relevance of Evaluation to Society: Challenging Assumptions about Social Interventions and Change (2012). American Evaluation Society: Minneapolis, MN.

The Narrow Preoccupation with Understanding Valuing in the Public Interest (2012). European Evaluation Society: Helsinki, Finland.

“On Getting The Science Right and Getting The Right Science: Evaluation in an Era of Data-Driven and Evidence-Based Decision Making.” (2011). Danish Evaluation Society: Nyborg, Denmark.

“A Pragmatic Sensibility for Educational Research.” (2011). American Educational Research Association: New Orleans, LA.

Understanding the intersection of professional ethics and cultural morality (2006).: Portland, OR.

Can we live without ethics, guidelines, and standards in evaluation practice? (2006).: London.

Bases of substantiation: Hierarchies of evidence or methodological appropriateness? (2006). Claremont University: Claremont, CA.

The pressing need for ethical education: A commentary on the growing IRB controversy (2006). University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign: IL.

The relevance of the practical knowledge traditions to evaluation practice (2004).: Atlanta, GA.

What methods best support evaluative judgments? (2004). American Evaluation Association: Atlanta, GA.

The centrality of practice in evaluation (2004).: Stockholm.

Sciencephobia or legitimate worry? A diagnostic reading of science-based educational research (2004). University of Minnesota: MN.

There is more to ‘Knowing Practice’ than just ‘Knowing in Practice' (2004).: Sweden.


Principal Investigator, Evaluation of Norwegian Rehabilitation Program, National Center for Comprehensive Rehabilitation Research and Development, Bødo College (Bødo College, Bødo Norway), 2001 - 2004


Editor-in-Chief, American Journal of Evaluation, 2009 - 2013

Member of standing committee, National Academy of Science, National Research Council-DBASSE, 2007 - 2013