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Textbook: Vito, G. F., & Higgins, G. E. (2015). Practical program evaluation for criminal justice. Waltham, MA: Elsevier. ISBN: 9781455777709.
Evaluations. Evaluations are especially important to programs. They allow for the effectiveness of the program to be determined and give the opportunities to be made if they need to be made. With this discussion for different evaluation methods will be explained, along with the strength and weakness of the methods. There will also be a look at the RCT and the five levels of the Maryland Scientific Method Scale.
There are different types of evaluation types. Four of them are the process evaluation, theory driven evaluation, outcome evaluation, and cost efficiency evaluation. The process evaluation per, Vito and Higgins, in the textbook in Practical Program Evaluation for Criminal Justice (2015), “process evaluation focuses on both the monitoring of the program and the implementation of the original plan for it. Its purpose is to determine whether the program is being carried out as it was described in its original plan, typically in response to a grant application” (p.85). The positives of this process are it helps describe the process of a program including management and infrastructure in detail while also showing the outcome and impact of the program. In other words, process evaluation leads to improvements in both program design and implementation in a timely fashion, hold program administrators accountable, and informs on the impact evaluation by either validating or negating the performance measures and indicators established in the original program plan and evaluation research design (p. 101-102). The negative of the process is it the evaluation is based on the priorities of the stakeholder and client. It is not a broad look at everything within the program.
The second evaluation method is the theory driven method, also known as the program theory. This theory explains why a program does what it does and provides the rationale that doing so will achieve the expected or desired results (p. 64). The positives of this method is it is a method that is for social or intervention programs and is used in order to show how a program is supposed to work. The negative of this theory is if the theory is neglected in the planning stages of the program, it will cause errors to happen and ongoing issues that can not be corrected easily. The reason being is the planning of a theory-driven evaluation requires more intensive conceptual work than a conventional evaluation (Chen & Rossi, 1989, p.305). The next method is the outcome evaluation. This evaluation method is used to determine whether a program, project, or policy has been effective and met its intended goals (p.105). The pro of this method is it informs the evaluator if the program is effect and does what it is supposed to do. It gives the success rate. The negative is the outcome is based upon the information that is presented. If the data is not correct or flawed in any way, it effects the outcome and negates it.
The last evaluation method is the cost efficiency evaluation. This evaluation method is used to determine the cost of a program and if the cost is worth the outcome of the program. Cost effective evaluation positive is it allows for a budget to be realistic, allows programs to know what is going where, and allows for them to cut the unnecessary things. A negative of is also, sometimes programs that are needed, get cut before they ever get the chance to help communities because the cost of the program.
Randomized Controlled Trail and Maryland Scientific Method Scale
The Random Controlled Trail (RCT) is a study that is used to test effectiveness of therapies or interventions (Nichol, 2010, p.520). People can test many different questions that they have as it relates to different topics with the trail. However, there are many questions that cannot be answered. When applying it to policing, there are some questions that can not be answered when one uses RCT. These questions are questions that are too broad, have no have more than one objective, biased, and have no realistic intervention plan. Example of this type of question is
- Does the DARE program need more funding?
This random question that would not work for RCT. The reason being is because they are too broad. The question needed to be limited on one. That means there is no way to test the question properly. The theory driven method would be better applied because it allows for the researcher to look at DARE program and gather the necessary information needed in order to figure out if the DARE policing program need more funds to properly push the program.
The Maryland Scientific Method Scale aims to communicate to scholars, policymakers, and practitioners in the simplest possible way that studies the effects of criminological interventions differ in methodological quality (Sherman et al., 2006, p. 13). An example of a research question that can use the Maryland Scientific Method Scale is:
- Are the students of the DARE program more likely to stay away from drugs?
This question is not vast. It is realistic because it allows for a look at the success rate of the DARE program and that is what researchers and evaluators want to know. The success rate of the program. Proverbs 16:3 states, “commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established” (Proverbs 16:3, KJV). Success is especially important. However, it is only important when it obtained in the correct way.