Research

Evaluation Research

The Institute conducts evaluation research that is responsive to the needs of policy-makers, agency administrators, and program managers, and which also enjoys the credibility of an independent evaluation to funding sources and other external constituencies. Institute staff and consultants are skilled in the collection of qualitative and quantitative data, have expertise in conducting rigorous social science research, and are proficient in a range of research and analytic methods.

We have proven expertise in these types of studies:

  • Outcome Evaluations to measure program/intervention effectiveness in terms of important outcomes (intended and unintended)
  • Process Evaluations to describe interventions and their immediate outputs
  • Formative Evaluations to assess the mechanisms of program operation, and identify the programmatic components that offer opportunities for program improvements
  • Experimental and Quasi-Experimental Evaluations to provide for the strongest feasible scientific designs in estimating the magnitude of a program’s or intervention’s impact.
  • Benefit-Cost Studies to support judgments about the utility of programs or interventions in terms of their net social benefit.

Governmental and other sources of funding increasingly expect that programs that they support will have demonstrable – and demonstrated – success in achieving their social objectives, and both the public and its elected representatives demand that public agencies employ evidence-based practices whose costs are justified by the benefits that they provide. Thus the findings of evaluation research are instrumental for program improvement and for program sustainability.

Needs and Capacity Assessment

The Institute works in partnership with agency/community stakeholders to analyze and assess community or organizational needs and capacities, and to identify gaps. Such assessments serve to inform the formulation of strategic priorities and choices, and to assist communities or organizations to achieve desired goals through the development of data driven programs grounded in evidence-based or promising practices tailored to the local environment and which complement or leverage existing resources and strengths.

Descriptive Research

The Institute conducts descriptive research for various purposes – e.g., to measure citizen, client, or staff perceptions, to establish baselines for later comparison, to diagnose problem areas – using various methods as needed (e.g., surveys, interviews, coding administrative records).

Research Reviews

The Institute conducts systematic searches of extant literature, critically assesses the strength of the empirical evidence, and summarizes the results of scientific research on designated topics. Such research reviews are valuable both for making informed decisions about policy direction and for program development, so that programmatic features reflect the available evidence about what works.