Roundtable: Combining Continuous Improvement with Impact Evaluation: From Theory to Practice
(Methods and Tools of Analysis)

Friday, November 8, 2019: 10:15 AM-11:45 AM
Plaza Building: Lobby Level, Director's Row H (Sheraton Denver Downtown)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Organizer:  Scott Cody, Insight Policy Research
Moderator:  Ruth Neild, Research for Action
Speakers:  Rebecca Maynard, University of Pennsylvania, Anthony Bryk, Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, Scott Cody, Insight Policy Research and Beth Boulay, Abt Associates, Inc.

This roundtable discussion will discuss why experimental and continuous improvement methods are being combined by some of the field’s leading researchers.

While experimental research designs are the gold standard testing causal relationships, the growing appetite for evidence has challenged researchers to go beyond examining average effects – or even effects for subgroups – to (1) develop interventions that are sensitive to resources and challenges of local contexts and (2) adapt interventions with evidence of effectiveness to new contexts. This enduring research-to-practice challenge has catalyzed the use of continuous improvement approaches designed to integrate the work of researchers and practitioners in ways that improve outcomes across diverse local contexts. These two approaches have coexisted in the pursuit of effective interventions.

As researchers who have used both approaches at various points in their careers – and recognize value and the limitations of each -- the panelists will discuss how these two types of inquiry can be used in complementary ways. The panel will answer:

  • Why is continuous improvement important, and how do you integrate it with evaluation?
  • How do you define rigor for continuous improvement?
  • What are best practices in research design and funding?
  • Can continuous improvement and evaluation be integrated on a limited budget?

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