MDRC’s work can improve policy and practice only if influential people know about it and can easily use it. An important part of making sure that decision-makers hear about what we’ve learned is getting attention in the mainstream and trade press. Here are some of MDRC’s most prominent media mentions from 2017.
In 2017, MDRC released more than 80 reports, briefs, infographics, blog posts, and podcasts on programs affecting low-income Americans in all realms of education and social policy: education from preschool to postsecondary, workforce development, behavioral science, youth development, home visiting, community development, and more.
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.
The Incubator presents highlights of the year’s activities — the launch of monthly posts, conference workshops, numerous reports, and an array of new projects at MDRC involving implementation studies — and previews topics upcoming in 2018.
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.
Assessing an intervention’s effects on multiple outcomes increases the risk of false positives. Procedures that make adjustments to address this risk can reduce power, or the probability of detecting effects that do exist. MDRC’s Reflections on Methodology discusses how to estimate power when making adjustments as well as alternative definitions of power.
Lawrence Katz explores questions raised by findings from the Behavioral Interventions to Advance Self-Sufficiency (BIAS) project: the potential effect of behavioral nudges on long-term outcomes, determining who responds to behavioral nudges but would not otherwise participate in a program, and moving to higher-intensity efforts when low-cost interventions are not enough.
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.
The Effects of the City University of New York’s Accelerated Study in Associate Programs After Six Years
The City University of New York’s Accelerated Study in Associate Programs (ASAP) is an uncommonly comprehensive and long-term program shown to raise graduation rates among community college students. Following up after six years, MDRC finds that ASAP increases graduation rates and enables some students to earn their degrees sooner.
In this commentary from the final report on the Behavioral Interventions to Advance Self-Sufficiency (BIAS) project, Sheldon Danziger talks about the value of incorporating insights from behavioral science into new system-level interventions when developing policies to help low-income populations.