Building Evaluation Capacity in Schools

by Maras, Melissa Ann

Abstract (Summary)
Schools have been identified as the ideal context for the delivery of a continuum of health promotion and prevention services to youth, and it is expected that school-based mental health will help address the significant gap between the mental health needs and resources of children and adolescents in this country. Schools are under increasing pressure to demonstrate positive outcomes in an era of accountability, and while schools collect a diverse array of information that could be helpful in developing, implementing and evaluating health and mental health activities, they lack the capacity to use these data effectively. The purpose of this study was to investigate one method of building capacity in a school district to use data more effectively. This was an exploratory study based on a community-centered model that used a mixed methodology of both quantitative and qualitative designs. The researcher collaborated with a local school district to use their student data as part of an action research project. The participants in this study learned about their data, developed research questions, and used results from quantitative analyses of these data to make a strategic action plan for activities in the district. The researcher then interviewed participants using a semi-structured interview to evaluate the impact of participation in this project on individual and organizational learning. Results indicated that participants did learn from the action research project, as they reported perceived gains in individual and organizational capacity to use data more effectively. Participants also reported perceived individual and organizational gains in capacities not related to data or the use of data. Results suggested that the process of the action research project fostered individual and organizational capacities. The discussion explores the unique contribution of this study to the young but evolving literature addressing process use for evaluation capacity building in school. Limitations of the current study and next steps for the field are included.
Bibliographical Information:


School:Miami University

School Location:USA - Ohio

Source Type:Master's Thesis

Keywords:evaluation capacity building school mental health pluralistic methodology archived student data


Date of Publication:01/01/2008

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