Program administrators and planners face increasing pressure from funding sources, professional groups, and recipients of service to provide and to make use of systematic data. Until recently, administrators could rely on research consultants to assist them in performing these research tasks, but with increased costs and reduced funds, many administrators and planners have had to utilize research concepts and techniques themselves in developing, maintaining, and modifying social programs. "Research Techniques for Program Planning, Monitoring, and Evaluation" is designed to provide research skills that will assist administrators directly in making program decisions. The book offers administrators of health, education, and social welfare programs, as well as students of social work and public administration, a wide range of research techniques for increasing the quality and effectiveness of administrative practice, lessening at the same time their dependence on costly research consultation. "Research Techniques" contains three major sections: program planning, monitoring, and evaluation.
Each section begins with a description of the administrative function to which it is devoted, followed by a set of selected research techniques, each illustrated with a hypothetical case and an exercise for the reader in applying the technique to an existing social program or agency. Planning for a new agency program requires valid and reliable information about the needs of the target population, the existing programs to meet these needs, effective intervention stratifies, and the skills of the members of the agency staff. Professors Epstein and Tripodi suggest valuable guidelines for collecting these data. In addition, they outline the specific decisions that must be made so that realistic objectives can be set for relating client demand to the available supply of services. Among the research techniques for the program planning which they explore are questionnaires, interviews, research literature already available, and observational techniques. Monitoring measures the actual program performance against its planning objectives, enabling administrators to modify a program operation or report its success to sponsors.
With program monitoring, an administrator can decide whether to reallocate staff, to ask for an increase in budget, or to realign policies in compliance with legal requirements. Separate chapters are devoted to sampling techniques for asserting staff performance as well as to the principles of data analysis. Program evaluation takes effectiveness and efficiency into account in assembling the achievement of program goals. Emphasizing administrative self-evaluation, "Research Techniques" explains the interrupted time series design, the replicated cross-sectional survey design, comparative designs, and the crossover design in terms the nonstatistician will find easy to understand. "Research Techniques for Program Planning, Monitoring, and Evaluation" is an indispensable guide, offering administrators and planners sound professional advice on more responsible administrative decision making.