The Society for Social Work and Research

2013 Annual Conference

January 16-20, 2013 I Sheraton San Diego Hotel and Marina I San Diego, CA

Using Technology to Support Research Fidelity

Sunday, January 20, 2013: 8:45 AM-10:30 AM
Seabreeze 1 and 2 (Sheraton San Diego Hotel & Marina)
Cluster: Research Design and Measurement
Melanie Sage, PhD, University of North Dakota
Technology introduces new options for communicating with data collectors who are also practitioners to support research fidelity. Although Principal Investigators in intervention studies often rely upon clinicians or social work practitioners for data collection, the process of maintaining fidelity at distant sites can be especially difficult when workers come and go, work in multiple locations, or have different levels of training.

This workshop will cover ways in which using free widely available technology can assist in insuring field-based data collectors are operating under the same set of instructions and guiding principles to support fidelity, assist in research communication, and support shared ownership of the research process.  Using a case scenario, the speaker (who is the lead evaluator on a Children's Bureau grant) will share how her research project utilizes (a) a blog to keep field researchers oriented and updated to the research project, (b) Jing Screencasting software to describe the purpose and instructions of each of the research forms, (c) the use of Youtube as a way to store videos and upload them to blogs to communicate with researchers by video, (d) the use of Survey Monkey (or other survey software) to quiz workers on what they have learned in training and offer them opportunities to explain the research in their own words, and (e) how to collaborate with field researchers via blog to improve processes.  

This method of communicating with social work practioners who participate in research as data collectors has demonstrated several benefits: (a) workers understand and can explain the purpose of the research, (b) workers can re-review the instructions for completing the research forms as often as they would like, and can be referred back to a specific video instruction if the forms come back incomplete, (c) the blog offers an opportunity for collaboration, a place to ask questions, and an opportunity to update protocol based on research feedback without rewriting a manual, (d) workers have an sense of trust and ownership in their role as data collectors and field researchers, and (e) workers receive consistent training.  

After demonstrating techniques used in a current study, the speaker will lead a discussion about how the methods might be applied to other research projects and answer questions.

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