The Evidence Generation initiative works with affiliated agencies to identify the operational or managerial challenges that may limit an agency’s ability to participate in a rigorous outcome evaluation. Next, we help agency staff to set a course of building and implementing the analytic resources necessary for future evaluations.
Typically, the work begins by creating or refining an agency’s theory of change and a conceptual framework or logic model that can be used to specify a program’s key components and their relationship to desired outcomes. The next step is to review the agency’s existing data resources and to recommend any new or revised procedures that will be needed in order to measure the core components of the logic model.
We may also help the staff of each agency with special projects that address data collection challenges that they face. Depending on the organization and its mission, data collection tasks may include improving an agency’s administrative information, its documentation of case flow, and the use of surveys or interviews. We may also help affiliated agencies to identify and begin to use higher quality information, including research literature, screening and assessment instruments, other decision making tools, and even other sources of consultation and expertise. The goal of our work, however, is not to conduct evaluations or to produce research findings. Rather, we help affiliated agencies to develop the tools and skills they will need to participate in their own evaluations.
The Evidence Generation initiative is dedicated to helping agencies and programs that are interested in “evidence-informed practice” (EIP) rather than “evidence-based practice” (EBP). The key distinction is that EIP sees the development of sound evidence as an ongoing process of exploration and discovery that incorporates information from a range of sources, including practitioner experience and judgment. It is not restricted to those relatively few program models and practices that have already benefitted from the scale of investment required for publication in prestigious academic journals.
The philosophy of evidence-informed practice is explained in this brief video from the Ontario Centre of Excellence for Child and Youth Mental Health in Canada.