July 2012 - Inciter
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Understanding the “evidence” in “evidence-based” home visiting programs

A May 2012 New York Times Opinionator article reviewed the success of the Nurse-Family Partnership (NFP) home visiting program. NFP is a program in which registered nurses visit with first time, high-risk pregnant women throughout their pregnancy and early motherhood. These nurses teach the women the importance of prenatal care, talk with them about the childcare and child development, and work with the mothers on appropriate parenting behaviors until the child is 2 years old.The Opinionator article listed many of the impressive evaluation findings from years of research on NFP, including follow up studies showing that children whose mothers had gone through the NFP program were 58% less likely to be convicted of a crime at age 19 than those whose mothers had not been in the program. Reading about...

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Experimental Design versus Applied Research Design in Evaluations

Experimental design, a major component of pure (i.e. basic) research is considered the gold standard for research. The premise of experimental design is that a group of participants are randomly assigned to treatment or intervention groups. This random assignment is intended to limit differences between groups. Additionally, the participant and/or experimenter are often blind to which group the participant belongs. With this type of design, you can effectively compare the outcomes across groups at the end of a program. Presumably, the group that received your intervention will show the expected outcomes, while the group that didn’t receive the intervention will not. Any conclusions drawn by the experimenter that the intervention worked or didn’t work should be taken as concrete because all other factors that could influence the outcomes were controlled...

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