Semistructured interviews involve an interviewer asking some prespecified, open-ended questions, with follow-up questions based on what the interviewee has to say. This Reflections on Methodology post describes a semistructured interview protocol recently used to explore how children who experience poverty perceive their situations, their economic status, and public benefit programs.
Home Visiting and Coordinated and Integrated Early Childhood Systems
Funders at all levels are investing in programs to support expectant parents and families with young children. MDRC is conducting research in that field in three areas: integrating systems of services that work together, getting families and children the right services, and building evidence about promising models.
Assessment-to-Instruction (A2i) is a data-driven professional support system that helps teachers tailor instruction for each child. When delivered with intensive in-person training, it is effective at improving students’ reading ability. This Issue Focus introduces the evaluation of a delivery model that uses technology to make the system more affordable.
In this commentary from the final report on the Behavioral Interventions to Advance Self-Sufficiency (BIAS) project, Sim B. Sitkin considers looking beyond individual client behavior when designing interventions to target program staff and groups of clients as well as entire organizations.
This commentary focuses on an intervention from the Behavioral Interventions to Advance Self-Sufficiency (BIAS) project that aimed to improve child support payment rates in a state-supervised program in Ohio. The author reflects on the availability of the agency’s data, the involvement of staff at all levels, clients’ experiences, and lessons learned.
In this commentary from the final report on the Behavioral Interventions to Advance Self-Sufficiency (BIAS) project, Marianne Bertrand talks about the potential for a broader behavioral agenda that would include larger contributions from psychology and could transform public policy in ways that might induce long-term changes in behavior.
This issue focus discusses the conclusions of a recent MDRC working paper, Project-Based Learning: A Literature Review. The paper found that project-based learning holds promise for improving students’ outcomes but that much remains to be learned about its effectiveness and about how its implementation can be strengthened.
When Behavioral Interventions Aren’t Enough
Philip Oreopoulos’s commentary from the final report on the Behavioral Interventions to Advance Self-Sufficiency (BIAS) project addresses the limitations of written communication and describes the value of personal interactions for building trusting relationships between service providers and clients, which in turn encourage active program participation.
Dilip Soman looks at the pros and cons of using heuristics in general and the “SIMPLER” framework in particular ― developed specifically by the Behavioral Interventions to Advance Self-Sufficiency (BIAS) project ― to guide practitioners in their efforts to improve human services programs.
Researchers developing behavioral interventions begin by defining a problem, identifying “bottlenecks” that might hamper desired outcomes, and designing and testing possible solutions. In this Expert Commentary from the final report on the Behavioral Interventions to Advance Self-Sufficiency (BIAS) project, Crystal Hall suggests three ideas for expanding the use of this process.