Thursday, July 10, 2008

Reading Social & Behavior Research for Application

In our efforts to translate scientific findings into useful applications and information for the public we need to translate "research information" into useful bits for the public. In preparing for an upcoming graduate course on program planning, I have been trying to recollect how I read research in order to apply it. Here are the questions I find myself asking when I read research for application. I would welcome comments, revisions, etc.

Research Findings

What are the main findings in this article?

How important are these findings? Major new idea? Contributes to what is generally known?

What implications do each of these findings have for individuals, families, schools, etc.?

Who would be interested in these findings or who would benefit from learning about these findings?

How do these findings fit in with other research findings in this same area? Similar? Contradict? Add new information?

What is the general theoretical or conceptual rationale underlying these findings?

How robust are these findings? Are the methods and results adequate and appropriate?

Are the findings qualified/limited in any ways? (For example, by specific population characteristics, age group, setting, etc.)

Application Possibilities

How could these findings be taught or communicated?

Are there any special/unique ways that these findings could be taught?

Are there any data collection methods or other procedures that could be converted into a teaching tool?

For quantitative studies are there specific data, charts, or graphs that could be included in the teaching or presentation of the material?

For qualitative studies are there quotes, stories, or examples that could be included in teaching or presentation of the material?

Program Design (Program Logic or Change Model)

How do these findings fit into a theory of change or into a logic model for a particular issue or problem?

Do these findings change your understanding of the major or minor causes or contributors to a problem or issue?

Do these findings modify the behaviors or conditions that you plan to affect with your program?

Do these findings suggest additional conditions or contexts to consider in your program model?

Program Evaluation

What outcome variables from this research study might be used in evaluating your program?

What measurement techniques or tools from this research might be used in evaluating your program?

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