Methodological Expertise

SPR has expertise in multiple methodologies, including:

We pride ourselves on implementing the most rigorous quantitative designs possible given the program under study. Our primary quantitative methods include:

  • Experimental Designs: SPR has extensive experience in using randomized control trial (RCT) designs, which are considered the gold standard for quantitative research. Our RCT studies have randomly assigned more than ten thousand individuals, including youth, dislocated workers, job training applicants, offenders returning to their communities, and individuals seeking educational grants to further their training.
  • Quasi-experimental Designs: SPR frequently conducts quasi-experimental evaluations of existing programs, using techniques such as propensity score matching, difference-in-difference, and pre-post comparisons to estimate the impacts of a program on its participants. As one example, SPR conducted a national evaluation of the federal Trade Adjustment Assistance program, using propensity score matching to select a rigorous comparison group.
  • Social Network Analyses: SPR employs social network analysis (SNA) to assess network leadership, network health, and rates of networking, coordination, and collaboration, with the goal of understanding the strength and capacity of networks over time. We have used SNA for more than a dozen studies focused on leadership development, capacity building, field building, and movement building.
  • Outcome Studies and Other Quantitative Studies: SPR is deeply experienced at studying the outcomes obtained by program participants. We also employ a variety of other quantitative designs, including survey design and administration, gap analysis, and needs assessment.

SPR is nationally recognized for its extensive qualitative evaluations of workforce, human services, educational, and philanthropic programs. For each study, we tailor our methods to meet the needs of the evaluation and to answer the specific questions that are of interest to our clients. Among our qualitative methodologies are:

  • Interviews: SPR has conducted hundreds of site visits to grantees, public programs, schools, community- and faith-based organizations, and government agencies across the country, allowing us to interview thousands of staff members directly engaged in providing services or working with their communities. These visits range in length from a few hours to an entire week, and allow our researchers to explore a wide range of topics in-depth with interviewees and to learn directly from those providing services.
  • Focus Groups: During site visits, SPR frequently conducts focus groups with program staff, participants, and community or field leaders. These focus groups enable us to learn from those who know the most about the program, community, or area in which they work, and allow those individuals to share their experiences and expertise with others in the group.
  • Observations: We routinely conduct observations of program activities and community events, to learn firsthand how services are provided and how community members interact with and engage in program activities.
  • Ethnographic Studies: SPR also conducts ethnographic studies, in which we work with an individual who is native to a community, eliciting their expertise to identify appropriate individuals to interview and appropriate events to attend in an effort to immerse ourselves in the life of the community.

We frequently work with foundations and government agencies to help them increase their capacity to serve their clients or to more effectively award grants. The methods we employ include:

  • Developmental Evaluations
  • Cluster/Initiative Evaluations
  • Collaborative Process and Planning Evaluations
  • Logic Model and Theory-of-Change Development Assessments
  • Participatory Evaluations
  • Funding Strategy and Special Initiative Assessment and Design
  • Utilization-Focused Evaluations

SPR has a national reputation for conducting rigorous research using culturally appropriate methods. We strive to integrate cultural responsiveness in all aspects of our work. This includes considering the role of researchers within any given cultural setting; examining the interactions between race, gender, socioeconomic class, sexual identity, and other issues of power among funders, evaluators, and community members within the evaluation environment; and working with clients to establish culturally sensitive approaches to answering critical questions about diversity and inclusion practices and equity outcomes.

For more information, or to discuss potential projects, please contact:

Andrew Wiegand

Andrew Wiegand

Vice President of Research and Business Development