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The Use of Qualitative Methods in Large-Scale Evaluation: Improving the Quality of the Evaluation and the Meaningfulness of the Findings

by Julie Slayton & Lorena Llosa - 2005

In light of the current debate over the meaning of scientifically based research, we argue that qualitative methods should be an essential part of large-scale program evaluations if program effectiveness is to be determined and understood. This article chronicles the challenges involved in incorporating qualitative methods into the large-scale evaluation of the Waterford Early Reading Program and the decisions made in light of those challenges. We demonstrate that, in spite of the challenges, there are significant benefits associated with using qualitative methods on a large scale. More specifically, by using qualitative methods, we were able to improve the evaluation and generate findings that were meaningful and useful to stakeholders. It is our hope that our experiences can be used by others to inform their work as they seek to incorporate qualitative methods into their large-scale evaluations.

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Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 107 Number 12, 2005, p. 2543-2565
https://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 12251, Date Accessed: 8/14/2020 1:52:12 AM

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About the Author
  • Julie Slayton
    Los Angeles Unified School District
    E-mail Author
    JULIE SLAYTON is a chief educational research scientist for the Los Angeles Unified School District. Her research focuses on the relationship between district-provided professional development for teachers and changes in the quality of teacher pedagogy. Her earlier work focused on charter schools. She is the author of “School Funding in the Context of California Charter School Reform: A First Look” in The Multiple Meaning of Charter School Reform (Ed. A. S. Wells), Teachers College Press, 2003, and coauthor of “Defining Democracy in the Neoliberal Age: Charter School Reform and Educational Consumption in American Educational Research Journal, 2002.
  • Lorena Llosa
    New York University
    LORENA LLOSA is an assistant professor in the Department of Teaching and Learning at New York University’s Steinhardt School of Education. Her research focuses on validity issues related to the assessment of English learners’ language proficiency and content knowledge. She is the author of “Assessing English Learners’ Language Proficiency: A Qualitative Investigation of Teachers’ Interpretations of the California ELD Standards” in The CATESOL Journal, 2005.
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