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Mixed Methods for Policy Research and Program Evaluation

Mixed Methods for Policy Research and Program Evaluation

March 2015 | 232 pages | SAGE Publications, Inc

This practical text equips students, researchers, and policymakers in the social sciences with the tools they need for applying mixed methods in policy research and program evaluation, from design, through data collection, and dissemination. Emphasizing the “how-to”—the set of conceptual and active tasks carried out by mixed methods researchers—the book is illustrated with rich case studies from the authors’ own research projects in education and public policy. These examples help readers identify and explain policy and program impacts and better understand the “why” and “how” of observed effects. Throughout the book, the authors describe challenges that both beginners and advanced scholars are likely to encounter when doing mixed methods research and recommend practical tools available to address them.

Chapter 1: Introduction: The Demand for and Value of Fully Integrated Qualitative and Quantitative Research
The Role of Mixed Methods Research in Meeting the Demand for Evidenced-Based Policy and Practice  
What Distinguishes This Book in the Mixed Methods Literature  
Overview of Remaining Chapters  
Recommendations for How to Use This Book  
Chapter 2: Conceptualizing Mixed Methods Research
Rationale and Conditions for Mixed Methods Research  
Categorizing Mixed Methods Approaches  
Overview of a Fully Integrated, Mixed Methods Research Effort  
Discussion Questions  
Applications to Your Own Work  
Chapter 3: Designing and Implementing Fully Integrated Mixed Methods Research
Integration in Research Objectives and Design  
Integration in Instrumentation Design and Data Collection  
Integration in Data Analysis and Interpretation of Findings  
Integration in Dissemination of Research Findings  
Discussion Questions  
Applications to Your Own Work  
Chapter 4: Practical Tools for Integrated Mixed Methods Studies of Policy Implementation
Mixed Methods Integration Strategy #1: Bridging Research Instruments for Qualitative and Quantitative Integration  
Mixed Methods Integration Strategy #2: Mixed Methods Coding and Analysis Memoing  
Mixed Methods Integration Strategy #3: Adapted Monitoring Tool and Research Reviews  
Mixed Methods Integration Strategy #4: Research-to-Practice Collaborative  
Discussion Questions  
Applications to Your Own Work  
Chapter 5: Fully Integrated Mixed Methods Research in K-12 and Higher Education in the United States
Program Evaluation of Student Achievement Guarantee in Education  
Racial and Ethnic Inequity in Access and Successful Student Outcomes in Higher Education  
Challenges and Strategies for Addressing Challenges  
Discussion Questions  
Applications to Your Own Work  
Chapter 6: An Application of Fully Integrated Mixed Methods in Program Development and Evaluation
Program and Evaluation Motivation  
Pilot Program Development for Child Support Debt Reduction  
Demonstration Program Rollout and Early Evaluation Focus  
Impact Evaluation Findings and Their Interpretation and Use  
Discussion Questions  
Applications to Your Own Work  
Chapter 7: Mixed Methods Research in an International Context
Child Support Grant Impact Evaluation in South Africa  
Qualitative-Quantitative Integration Process in the CSG Impact Evaluation  
Benefits of a Tightly Integrated Qualitative-Quantitative Research Approach  
Discussion Questions  
Applications to Your Own Work  
Chapter 8: On the Future of Fully Integrated Mixed Methods Research: Context and Common Lessons From the Cases for the Field
How Context Matters  
Broader Lessons for the Field  
Concluding Thoughts  

Drawing on their extensive experience in large scale project management, Patricia Burch and Carolyn Heinrich clearly articulate an agenda for program and policy evaluation that is designed to ensure actionable evidence of the effectiveness of a program and its implementation is generated for all stakeholders. The examples they provide, while not minimizing the challenges of employing a mixed methods approach, will convince readers of the practicality and value of iteratively integrating both qualitative and quantitative approaches throughout the entire evaluation process, from initial design through data integration and analysis to dissemination of research findings. We can all learn from their experiences, so generously shared.

Patricia Bazeley
Research Support Pty Limited, Australia

In a time of scarce resources for social programs, wise policy requires making tough choices. To do this well, policymakers need reliable information on what works, why some approaches are more successful than others, and what can be done to improve effectiveness. This book is a vital primer on how to do that. It attacks the mistaken view that quantitative and qualitative research are alternatives, rather than essential complements that, when combined in a mix of research methods, can best provide guidance to policymakers and practitioners.

Judith M. Gueron
Scholar in Residence - President Emerita, MDRC

This book is just what is needed as we move into a new phase of evidence informed policy and practice.  It advocates an integrated and coherent approach to policy research and program evaluation while recognizing the realities and complexities of both policy and research. It will be immensely helpful to those engaged in mixed methods research across a variety of policy fields.

Geoff Whitty
Director Emeritus of the London Institute of Education, Research Professor at Bath Spa University, UK and Global Innovation Chair at the University of Newcastle, Australia

The gulf between qualitative and quantitative researchers is an old problem. With this useful and important new book, Burch and Heinrich help to bridge the divide, highlighting the need for a more complementary and integrated approach that can help us learn not just whether programs "work", but how and why they do.

Douglas N. Harris
Tulane University, and Director, Education Research Alliance for New Orleans

This rich and sophisticated book provides a wealth of insights and practical guidelines that will enhance the work of both novice and experienced researchers. Burch and Heinrich show the way to making mixed methods research more relevant and more rigorous.

Thomas Hatch
Teachers College Columbia University, and Co-Director, National Center for Restructuring Education, Schools, and Teaching (NCREST)

This is a very useful book for researchers and evaluators contemplating or already using mixed methods in policy research and evaluation, as well as for those teaching applied evaluation courses.

Diane Hirshberg
University of Alaska Anchorage

In this book, Burch and Heinrich have successfully explained how a mixed methods approach can be applied to policy analysis and evaluation.  I highly recommend it for scholars applying mixed methods to the study of public policy issues.  This book should be required reading for all public policy students and researchers.

Elizabeth A. Corley
Arizona State University

The book’s biggest strength is its emphasis on the practicalities of integrating different methods throughout the life cycle of a research project. For example, all the chapters end with discussion questions, which force the reader to think through and better understand how the material presented might apply to their own work. The book is also illustrated with rich case studies (mostly from the education and social welfare arenas) to aid understanding.

James Canton, social and behavioural research, Department for Transport
SRA Research Matters

Sample Materials & Chapters

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Chapter 2

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Patricia E. Burch

Patricia Burch (PhD, Stanford University) is an associate professor of education at the University of Southern California and studies the drivers and manifestations of private involvement (for profit and not for profit) in K-12 education and the implications for equity and quality in public schools. Over the past decade, Dr. Burch has conducted major studies and evaluations of K-12 education reform such as class size reduction, systemic district instructional reform in large urban school districts, teacher professional development reforms, school choice, and school-linked services. She is the author of several books, including Hidden... More About Author

Carolyn Jean Heinrich

Carolyn J. Heinrich (PhD, University of Chicago) is the Sid Richardson professor of public affairs at the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs, affiliated professor of economics, and the director of the Center for Health and Social Policy at the University of Texas at Austin. Dr. Heinrich’s research focuses on social welfare policy, workforce development, education, econometric methods for social program evaluation, and public management and performance management. She engages in research and evaluation work to improve education and training outcomes in programs for disadvantaged youth; labor market intermediaries and labor market... More About Author

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ISBN: 9781452276625

SAGE Research Methods is a research methods tool created to help researchers, faculty and students with their research projects. SAGE Research Methods links over 175,000 pages of SAGE’s renowned book, journal and reference content with truly advanced search and discovery tools. Researchers can explore methods concepts to help them design research projects, understand particular methods or identify a new method, conduct their research, and write up their findings. Since SAGE Research Methods focuses on methodology rather than disciplines, it can be used across the social sciences, health sciences, and more.