Fall 2023 - 61350 - PA 397C - Advanced Empirical Methods for Policy Analysis


Philanthropic and public resources are limited, and decisions regarding how to use limited resources must be informed by an understanding of how well programs (nonprofit and public) and policies produce their desired outcomes. However, measuring causal effects can be a challenge. As an academic and professional practice, program evaluation is informed by, and contributes to, social science research by testing ideas and generating knowledge. This course is designed to provide a broad – yet rigorous – overview of the rationale, frameworks, and tools available to evaluate the causal effects of nonprofit and social impact programs and policies. Many governments, philanthropic foundations, and nonprofit organizations have built the logic of evaluation into their work through systems of monitoring and evaluation. Increasingly important are social impact goals. Program evaluation aims to determine whether these programs achieve their intended goals or contribute to those they serve and how to improve accountability and effectiveness. We will develop skills in conducting analysis related to different phases of program evaluation: needs assessment, process evaluation, and impact evaluation. We will also explore dimensions of ethics and planning, plus explore the role of evaluators, funders, program staff, and stakeholders (powerful and less so) in implementing and responding to program evaluation results. We will use R for data analysis in this class, therefore either a baseline understanding of R programming or a strong desire to learn R is required to be successful in this class. If curious, read this: Why you should become an R user (https://www.psychologicalscience.org/observer/why-you-should-become-a-us...)

Instruction Mode