Our approach to each client
We value working in partnership with our clients. To this end, each project's methods, approach, and results are developed in collaboration with our clients; thus, our work is tailored to our clients' specific needs.
Process evaluations allow for comprehensive tracking of a program's scope and subsequent implementation. Such assessments provide critical data on the various services that agencies offer.
Outcome evaluations measure the impact or effectiveness of a program. Findings from this assessment work offer organizations and their funders core data on how programs impact the lives of their clients.
Needs assessments compile comprehensive sources of data for a variety of communities. A community could be a geographic location or a specific entity, such as a school. Needs assessments offer data on the current status of specific indicators such as community well being, crime and safety, levels of economic deprivation (including poverty rates and unemployment figures), etc.
Monitoring Community Indicators
The Data Co-Op has access to considerable amounts of federal, state, and county data. We draw on these and other sources to be able to track the current quality of life in central California.
Our work at the Co-Op extends well past specific research activities. We provide strategic planning consulting services as they relate to organizational development, the allocation of funds, and program design.
The Data Co-Op also provides grant writing services. Such work enables us to work with clients during the very beginning stages of their program design. This type of early collaboration leads to even stronger partnerships and more powerful deliverables once grants are funded and program work has been initiated.
Training and Technical Assistance
Our team of highly trained professionals offers training and technical assistance throughout all stages of project planning and evaluation work. Typically, these services consist of assistance with database development and navigation.
Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Mapping
Along with a full range of quantitative and qualitative data analysis, we offer Geographic Information Systems (GIS) mapping services. This powerful tool allows us to display U.S. Census data as well as program specific data via maps.
We design databases either as standalone program products or for use in evaluation efforts. These databases are built using Microsoft Access and are constructed in collaboration with clients.
We have the capacity to implement a wide range of up-to-date and innovative research designs. It is critical to note that regardless of the method we employ, we have our clients take part in a collaborative review of survey documents in order to be sure that they fully capture the scope of the program and that they remain fully sensitive to program clients. In addition, we manage all aspects of data collection work from instrument design and dissemination, sampling, data collection, data entry and cleaning, analysis, and report writing.
Data Management and Analysis
In terms of data management we use Excel, Access, and SPSS databases to store and analyze program data. Some clients perform their own data entry as we offer on-going technical assistance, while others prefer that we obtain and enter the data.
Our Methodological Approach
Our methodological approach typically involves the use of both quantitative and qualitative research methods. These methods include the following:
We employ a full range of survey methods. These include written questionnaires (with fixed, scaled, and open-ended questions) that are disseminated via mail, in-person, telephone, and/or via the Internet. All of these methods allow clients to obtain data from a large sample of their program participants.
Key Informant Interviews
Key informant interviews are often the center of our qualitative work. These in-depth face-to-face interviews provide a wealth of data from specific key informants. Information obtained from these interviews lead to some of the most concrete and detailed findings on program impact and success.
Focus groups (typically involving around 8 to 12 participants) serve as a powerful data collection vehicle. These structured research conversations draw on the collective knowledge of a full group of program participants, community stakeholders, experts, etc. Focus groups allow for exceptionally rich data on program implementation and effectiveness to be collected.
Case studies are qualitative research tools that are used to obtain in-depth information about the experiences clients have participating in a program. Most typically, case studies involve a confidential review of program documents as well as face-to-face interviews with program clients and personnel. This approach allows the researcher to capture powerful testimonials on program impact.
Complex Data Analysis
The Data Co-Op provides services that cover beginning descriptive analysis to advanced statistical work.