Research

Increasingly, educational opportunity programs are asked to incorporate strong theory and empirically-grounded activities into their service delivery models. These programs are also tasked with demonstrating the effectiveness of their services. To assist programs with this pursuit, the RED Department offers a variety of research services, including literature reviews, survey design, predictive modeling, and quasi-experimental design studies. The Department has over 10 years of experience working with programs to select evidenced-based practices and conduct in-depth research.

Staff are well versed in a wide array of research methods, and the RED Department offers quantitative, qualitative, and mixed methods studies. All team members have at least master’s-level training in research methods, and are certified in Group Design Standards by the Institute of Education Sciences’ What Works Clearinghouse (IES WWC). Staff take multiple steps to ensure that all data is handled with care and confidentiality is maintained throughout the research process. As a department, we adhere to strict ethical standards of practice and use the Federal Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and Human Subjects Protection protocols to guide our work. All research requests will be reviewed by the University of Kansas’ Institutional Review Board for approval.

The following tabs provide a more detailed description of the services offered by the RED Department.

Literature Reviews

A literature review is a systematic investigation of the empirical research literature. A literature review outlines current knowledge and substantive findings related to service implementation and effectiveness. Literature reviews can aid program planning and development by providing empirically-grounded guidance on effective methodologies and theoretical frameworks. The RED Department has experience working with clients to integrate findings from a literature review into the needs and plan of operation sections of their grant proposals. The Department also has extensive experience translating the findings from a literature review into actionable recommendations that clients’ can use to inform the implementation of their service delivery model. Relatedly, the Department has experience leveraging findings from literature reviews to develop customized best practice field guides for clients.

Survey Design

Valid and reliable tools are essential for assessing program delivery and impact. Surveys are a powerful tool used to collect meaningful feedback from participants. These instruments can be used to assess change in participants’ knowledge, attitudes, behaviors, and perceptions. To ensure survey results are valid and reliable the RED Department follows rigorous design standards and employs a variety of development techniques, such as pilot testing, cognitive interviewing, and expert review.

The RED Department offers customized survey development to fit your program’s needs. Staff can provide guidance on selecting pre-existing measures with sound psychometric properties or work with program partner’s to develop measures specifically tailored to their program. To date, the RED Department has designed several survey tools for educational opportunity programs, including a college knowledge survey for students and parents, a financial literacy assessment for students and parents, a summer melt assessment, and postsecondary transition and first-year follow-up survey. Surveys can be formatted as a paper/pencil or online assessment using Qualtrics.

Predictive Modeling

Predictive modeling is a multivariate statistical technique that can provide an understanding of the utility of key program components in predicting desired outcomes. Using historical data collected by educational organizations (e.g., academic records, program participation records), the RED Department can build statistical models to examine the likelihood that a desired outcome will occur (e.g., enrollment in a postsecondary institution). The information generated from these models can help program staff determine the optimal allocation of the program’s time and resources. For example, the RED Department examined the impact of high school course taking behavior in predicting postsecondary outcomes.

Quasi-experimental Research

When random assignment is not an option for your program, quasi-experimental designs (QED) offer a robust alternative method to test effectiveness. When participants are not randomly assigned it is likely that the two resulting groups will be different. To reduce the impact of these differences and create statistically-equivalent groups, several QED methodologies can be applied. The RED Department has extensive experience in conducting propensity score matching studies with pre-college access programs (e.g., GEAR UP) that investigate the effectiveness of interventions on academic and non-cognitive outcomes.