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About the Out-of-School Time Program Research and Evaluation Database

Research and evaluation work in the out-of-school time (OST) field is increasing. Substantial investment has already been made to learn about what types of out-of-school time programs work, for whom they work, why they work, and how to improve them. Currently, however, there is little systematic and ongoing investigation of the overall picture of research and evaluation work in the field of out-of-school time nor is there a systematic way to investigate how different programs approach the evaluation task in order to support development of the field and its programs. Harvard Family Research Project's Out-of-School Time Program Research and Evaluation Database addresses both these issues.

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What you will find in the database

Our database of out-of-school time research and evaluation profiles provides information, in an accessible way, about research and evaluation work of both large and small out-of-school time programs and initiatives. Each profile contains an overview of the out-of-school time program or initiative that was evaluated (or an overview of the research study), as well as detailed information about each report produced about that program. Electronic links to actual reports, where available, are also provided, as are contacts for program directors, researchers, and evaluators. The profiles are searchable on several key criteria in each of these broad categories. The search mechanism allows users to refine their scan of the profiles to specific program, research, and evaluation characteristics and findings information. New profiles are added and existing profiles are updated quarterly. To see all the profiles in our database click on “evaluation database” above and then click on “See an overview of all profiles in the database.” We have also compiled a bibliography of all of the OST research studies and evaluations that we have learned about (some of which have profiles in our database). To see it click on “evaluation database” above and then click on “Access our bibliography of OST program evaluations and research studies.”

We are committed to providing information on a range of research and evaluation approaches. Inclusion in our database does not equate with program endorsement. Research and evaluation profiles in the database provide the user with a variety of designs, methodologies, and findings to serve multiple stakeholder needs.

Evaluations and studies included in our database must meet the following three criteria:

  1. Examine programs or initiatives operating during out-of-school time.
  2. The evaluations or research studies aim to answer a specific question or set of questions about OST programs or initiatives.
  3. The programs or initiatives serve children between the ages of 5 and 19.

Additionally, we have developed a set of criteria to prioritize the order of entry of evaluations and studies into the database. We expect these priorities to shift to reflect field interests and database growth.

As of March 2002, our priorities for inclusion are:

  1. Evaluations or studies that have a quasi-experimental or experimental design.
  2. Evaluations or studies that contribute to the breadth and diversity of the database in the areas of geography, population served, program type, program size, research or evaluation type, instruments, etc.
  3. Evaluations of state initiatives or programs.
  4. Evaluations of city initiatives or programs.
  5. Evaluations or studies of initiatives or programs that attempt to further academic achievement and/or positive youth development.

We have solicited evaluations and studies from multiple sources including: our own scanning of the OST field; OST, research, and evaluation listservs; researchers and evaluators; and people who who have contacted us about their OST work. We welcome your suggestions for research and evaluations and hope that you will share your OST research or evaluation with us. To submit an evaluation or research study for consideration, please contact Heather Weiss at Harvard Family Research Project at Heather_Weiss@gse.harvard.edu.

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First time users

For first time users, we recommend that you read our Frequently Asked Questions section by clicking on “evaluation database” above and then click on “Frequently asked questions.” It contains information about the purposes and uses of the database.

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About the Out-of-School Time Program Research and Evaluation Bibliography

Inclusion Criteria
Evaluations and research studies that we are tracking must meet the following criteria:

  1. Examine programs or initiatives operating during out-of-school time.
  2. The evaluations or research studies aim to answer a specific question or set of questions about OST programs or initiatives.
  3. The programs or initiatives serve children between the ages of 5 and 19.

Categorization
Programs are categorized by program type. Program type can refer to a method of service delivery or a primary program goal. For example, a program promoting health (a program goal) might use recreational activities to achieve this goal (service delivery). Note that these categories are not mutually exclusive. For example, a program that provides science activities might also be promoting youth's interest in science. In this example, the science/technology/mathematics category would be both the program goal and service delivery method. Or, while positive youth development is often more accurately described as a goal, sometimes it is actually the best way to characterize the service delivery (e.g., life skills/social skills training). For this reason, program type refers to both program goals and service delivery methods, without distinguishing between the two.

Since programs may fall into more than one category, the same programs may come up in different lists—the program types that are most applicable to a particular program (with a maximum of three, although more may apply) are listed in parentheses following the program description.

Since research studies may not involve specific types of OST programs or initiatives, we have listed them in a separate category. However, if the programs examined in the research study primarily involve specific program types, research studies may also appear in the lists for those program types.

Entry Formatting
The format of the entries is as follows:

OST Bibliography Entry Sample

The profile button in the top right corner indicates that we have a profile of the program and its evaluation(s) or studies in our OST Program Research and Evaluation Database. Click on the button to open the profile from the database. Note that the research and evaluation reports listed in the bibliography entry may not necessarily all be included in the profile. For example, multiple reports may describe a single study and thus are combined into one profile, or the profile may not have been updated yet with the newest reports or evaluations.

Entries are marked new if they are new entries to the bibliography and are marked updated if they contain updated information. We are constantly receiving new information on evaluations and studies and we will update this list periodically.

Evaluation or research reports are listed in order of oldest to newest for each entry. Reports that are all available at the same URL have the URL listed at the end of the list. If the URL is specific to a particular report, it is listed immediately following the relevant citation.

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Feedback and Questions About the Out-of-School Time Program Research and Evaluation Database and Bibliography

Please feel free to contact us—your feedback is important to us. For comments, questions, and suggestions about our database or for information about how to submit an evaluation or study for inclusion in the database, please contact:

Heather Weiss at Heather_Weiss@gse.harvard.edu.

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© 2014 Presidents and Fellows of Harvard College
Published by Harvard Family Research Project