Program Evaluation Services

Division Philosophy

At the Division of Applied Research and Evaluation, our priority is to do work that is relevant, useful, usable, and evidence-based. We work closely with our partners to understand their evaluation needs and to develop appropriate questions, methodology, and deliverables so that our partners have the information and tools they need to move in their desired direction, whether that direction is identifying and addressing quality improvement needs, better understanding the populations they serve and the best means for serving them, or providing funders with appropriate-level outcome reports. We feel our work is strongest when we listen to families, staff, teachers, and others who most closely experience the programs or interventions of focus.

Who We Are

We are an interdisciplinary team, made up of professionals with expertise in developmental, educational, social, and community psychology; program evaluation; business management; and teaching and instruction. We collaborate with partners across practitioner, policy, and research arenas. We feel passionately about supporting quality programs and effective interventions that address the needs of children and families.

What We Do

We collaborate with community partners to make data make sense, make research relevant, and make evaluation useful in serving children and families. In our program evaluation work, we strive to produce informative work and avoid conducting evaluations that serve merely as an instrument of accountability and reporting. We focus on process and quality of implementation, and we empha appropriate outcomes so that programs can best understand the true impact of their work. When possible, we combine quantitative and qualitative data analysis to understand complex systems, service delivery, and service recipients. We listen, observe, and ask questions.

What We’ve Learned

We’ve learned that research informs practice and practice informs research. We’ve learned the importance of understanding the pieces of a program logic model and articulating a theory of change. We’ve learned that the most compelling outcomes are often found in the stories told by the families and staff most directly involved in program services. We’ve learned that, at the end of the day, people want to do their jobs well, connect with others, and provide high quality and effective programs.

Current Projects

Our division works in a wide-variety of areas concerning children, youth, and families. Our current portfolio includes:

· Developing, disseminating, and evaluating video and print materials designed for parents and professionals to improve communication around the importance of developmental screenings and early intervention.

· Evaluating a multi-district initiative to increase student perceptions of personalization in high schools in order to support academic achievement and plans for the future.

· Understanding how parents, teachers, and family-based providers of preschool-age children use technology to teach early literacy skills.

· Assessing the impact of a video-based pregnancy prevention intervention for teenage girls in health and family planning clinics in western Pennsylvania, Ohio, and West Virginia.

· Conducting a needs assessment for United Way of Allegheny County to guide their 2013-2016 Children and Youth action plan.

· Evaluating the academic impact of afterschool participation in several programs in the Hill District of Pittsburgh.

For more information, contact
Milena Nigam,
Division of Applied Research and Evaluation
Tel: 412.244.5025
Fax: 412.244.5425