I tweet about topics related to health, behavioral health, social services outcomes for vulnerable populations and the types of programs The Measurement Group works with. I also tweet about measurement, program evaluation, quantitative/qualitative methods, and data. So whether you are interested in content or methods, find me at @DrLisaMelchior and follow The Measurement Group on Twitter!
I recently blogged about my growing appreciation of qualitative and mixed methods approaches to evaluation, even though I was originally trained in quantitative psychology. It turns out I’m not alone! It seems that we are in the midst of a resurgence of qualitative methods. An article by Gergen, Josselson, and Freeman was published in the January 2015 issue of American Psychologist — the flagship journal of the American Psychological Association – titled, “The Promises of Qualitative Inquiry.” The article notes the addition of the Society for Qualitative Inquiry to APA Division 5 as “an invigorating and enriching expansion in the vision of psychological inquiry and its potentials.” One aspect of the inclusion of qualitative methods in Division 5 is APA’s publication of a new bi-annual journal, Qualitative Psychology.
In my professional life, my work is multidisciplinary, but mostly bridges the worlds of psychology (from my graduate training and professional licensure) and program evaluation (from years of postdoctoral experience and hands-on evaluation of healthcare and social services. Qualitative methods are “hot” now in evaluation too – the American Evaluation Association AEA 365 blog had a week recently dedicated to qualitative evaluation-related topics (January 2015) and has another one this week.
Why the renewed interest in qualitative methods? In his article Pursuing Excellence in Qualitative Inquiry, Kenneth Gergen describes it as part of transition in psychological science, with a shift to “a new pluralism.” From my own experience, I think that the richness of description that qualitative methods allow resonates with people. Qualitative findings “make sense” to research and evaluation stakeholders – that is, the people who use the information for decision-making, program improvement, and sharing a program’s successes, challenges, and lessons learned.
Learning from failure has been on my mind, both personally and professionally.
On the personal front, my son, a high school senior, wrote an essay for his college applications in response to one of the prompts in the Common Application:
“Recount an incident or time when you experienced failure. How did it affect you, and what lessons did you learn?”
Although the particular failure that my son wrote about was difficult for him to experience at the time, it was an important opportunity for learning and growth. With hindsight and some perspective, he was able to recognize and appreciate that.
The same can be said for failure as it occurs in community programs and how evaluation can help articulate the lessons learned from those failures. In program evaluation, documenting failure can be just as valuable as success – perhaps even more so. [Read more…]
What is mixed methods evaluation? Simply put, it refers to an evaluation design that combines both quantitative (numeric) and qualitative (descriptive) elements. In this blog post, I thought I’d share some thoughts about quantitative, qualitative, and mixed methods evaluation approaches.
Although my professional training as a research psychologist originally emphasized the quantitative side of the field, I have come to appreciate that numbers don’t always tell the whole story of a program’s characteristics, outcomes, or impacts. A recent article in the Guardian described four common misconceptions about data that illustrate some of these issues and limitations: [Read more…]
Five fun facts about The Measurement Group (aka TMG):
- Our founder, Dr. George Huba (@DrHubaEvaluator), started the company on a folding table in his living room — less than a mile from our current location in Culver City, California.
- Our first consulting project was a job analysis of protective services workers for San Diego county. That project continues to inform my work to this day.
- In addition to our program evaluation work, we have worked with publishers of psychological assessment tools to help them make user-friendly and psychometrically rigorous materials available to practitioners.
- TMG research assistants, who typically come to us as recent college graduates, have gone on to graduate study and successful careers in diverse fields such as public health, psychology, program evaluation, law, medicine, and business.
- Since 1988, we’ve worked with more than 400 health and social service programs in 38 states and 39 major metropolitan areas.