Discussion Question 7

Qualitative Approaches

Suppose you have been asked to review and reevaluate the findings of a quantitative, quasi-experimental, state-level study regarding the impact of the Guardian ad Litem (GAL) program in a single state. Data has been collected for 200 children over two years. One group had GALs assigned to them and the other did not. The GAL program attempts to provide a voice for abused and neglected children through the use of citizen volunteers as opposed to attorneys. GALs act as advocates for children in judicial proceedings and placement in permanent and safe homes. The study evaluated the effectiveness of the program in achieving positive outcomes for the children. These outcomes involved everything from court continuance and closures, increases in services, and adoptions and number of placements.

The study concluded that, although it did make a difference with respect to most of the outcome variables, there was no apparent effect on types of placements of the children during the study period of two years. Placements ranged from least to most restrictive such as permanent homes, foster homes, shelters, and institutions.

As a reviewer, you suspect that this finding or absence thereof might be illuminated by a different approach so you propose a qualitative evaluation design to focus on this question.

For this Discussion, review this week’s Learning Resources and consider what qualitative approach you would use and why.

Post a response to the following:

  • When considering using qualitative approaches for evaluating GAL situations, explain which qualitative approach you would recommending using and why. Include in your explanation supportive and credible examples of the value of your chosen approach using your readings, research and professional experience.
  • McDavid, J. C., Huse, I., & Hawthorn, L. R. L. (2013). Program evaluation and performance measurement: An introduction to practice (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
    • Chapter 5, “Applying Qualitative Evaluation Methods” (pp. 187–224)
  • Hancock, B., Ockleford, E., & Windridge, K. (2009). An introduction to qualitative research. Retrieved from http://www.rds-yh.nihr.ac.uk/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/5_Introduction-to-qualitative-research-2009.pdf
  • USAID. (2013). Conducting mixed-method evaluations. Retrieved from http://www.usaid.gov/sites/default/files/documents/1870/Mixed_Methods_Evaluations_Technical_Note.pdf
  • The World Bank. (2011). Integrating qualitative and quantitative approaches in program evaluation.Retrieved from http://go.worldbank.org/3XUVY74PN0
  • Bamberger, M. (2012). Introduction to mixed methods in impact evaluation [Video file]. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mN_AmhPZGTU
  • Bowers, B. (2008). An overview of qualitative research methods [Video file]. Retrieved from http://videos.med.wisc.edu/videos/3420
  • Hearn, J., Lawler, J., & Dowswell, G. (2003). Qualitative evaluations, combined methods and key challenges. Evaluation, 9(1), 30–54.
  • King, J., & Greenseid, L. (2007). The oral history of evaluation, part 5: An interview with Michael Quinn Patton. American Journal of Evaluation, 28(1), 102–114.
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