The Evidence Generation initiative worked 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 helped agency staff to set a course of building and implementing the analytic resources necessary for future evaluations.
Typically, the work began by creating or refining an agency’s theory of change and a conceptual framework or logic model that could be used to specify a program’s key components and their relationship to desired outcomes. The next step was to review the agency’s data resources and to recommend any new or revised procedures that would be needed in order to measure the core components of the logic model.
We also helped staff of each agency with special projects that addressed data collection challenges that they faced. 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 also offered to 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, was not to conduct evaluations or to produce research findings. Rather, we helped affiliated agencies to develop the tools and skills they needed to participate in their own evaluations.
The Evidence Generation initiative was dedicated to helping agencies and programs that were 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 benefited 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.