How Research is Used for Evaluation

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Research is an integral part of the public and nonprofit sectors. Budget analysts use research to generate revenue forecasts. Management analysts use research to determine if a program is serving citizens effectively. In nonprofit organizations, development directors use research to identify potential donors. As you can see, research occurs every day in all public and nonprofit organizations.

Research used for evaluation is especially challenging in the public and nonprofit sectors. Unlike their counterparts in the private sector, public administrators implement programs that produce “soft” and intangible results. Imagine the situation of a school administrator who implements an after-school counseling program for at-risk youth. One of the “soft” results of this program may be an increase in the self-esteem of a student. Self-esteem is a difficult concept to measure and may be measured in a variety of ways.

Or, consider a nonprofit organization that develops a program to help recovering addicts obtain gainful employment. While the measurement of whether or not the individual obtained a job is rather tangible and obvious, the confidence the individual gains as a result of participating in the program is intangible and much more difficult to measure. In order to measure the more challenging intangible results administrators rely on research. It is imperative for administrators to know how to conduct research in order to evaluate programs so that they can promote the values of efficiency, effectiveness, individual rights, and social equity.

For this Discussion, select a public or nonprofit organization with which you are familiar, or choose an organization from the Virtual Community of New Harbor, Delaware. Consider how research and evaluation could benefit this organization. A good place to start is to consider a program, problem, or policy that the organization may want to address in further detail.

Post by Day 3 a description of how research and evaluation can be used by this organization. Explain what program, problem, or policy could be addressed by research, and how this could benefit the organization.

Readings

  • Johnson, G. (2014). Research methods for public administrators (3rd ed.). Armonk, NY: M. E. Sharpe.
    • Chapter 1, “Introduction: Research Methods for Public Administrators” (pp. 3–16)
    • Chapter 2, “Basic Research Concepts” (pp. 17–33)
  • Hatry, H. P. (2013). Sorting the relationships among performance measurement, program evaluation, and performance management. New Directions for Evaluation, 2013(137),19–32.
    Retrieved from the Walden Library databases.
  • Litman, T. (2008). Evaluating research quality: Guidelines for scholarship. Victoria, British Columbia:Victoria Transport Quality Institute.
    Litman, T. (2012). Evaluating Research Quality Guidelines for Scholarship. Victoria Transport Policy Institute. Retrieved from http://www.vtpi.org/resqual.pdf Used with permission from Todd Litman.
  • Washington State Institute for Public Policy. (2004). Outcome of Washington state’s research-based programs for juvenile offenders. Retrieved from www.wsipp.wa.gov/ReportFile/852
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