The use of systems terms and ecological concepts is increasingly common in psychology, and in particular, community psychology. Interest in systems theory began with the development of general systems theory during the 1950's, and led to the adoption of an ecological-systems orientation which recognized the environment as a major determinant of human behavior and experience. Community psychology developed as a subdiscipline concerned with the systems-like relationships linking environmental forces, social processes, and psychological health. As a separate discipline, program evaluation has not shown a comparable trend toward an ecological-systems perspective, and is not equipped to assess the complexity of programs based upon systems conceptions. Researchers engaged in evaluation studies within community psychology must consider the implications and consequences of the ecological-systems theory. The evaluation of a mobile counseling project considered four such consequences: (1) reformulation and reconceptualization of the evaluation question; (2) shift of research design in the direction of complexity and flexibility; (3) use of multiple quantitative, and quantitative measures; and (4) relativistic and perspectival interpretation of results. (Author/NRB)
Paper presented at the Annual Convention of the American Psychological Association (88th, Montreal, Quebec, Canada, September 1-5, 1980). Best copy available.