The Unique Challenges of Afterschool Research: A Practical Guide for Evaluators and Practitioners


Murchison, L., Stafford, E., Fancsali, C., Beesley, A. D., & Browhan, K. (2019). The unique challenges of afterschool research: A practical guide for evaluators and practitioners. Afterschool Matters, 39, 28-35.


This article provides candid advice for evaluators seeking to transition from K-12 to afterschool research. This advice may also help program directors and other stakeholders who want to make the research process work more effectively for them. We aim to help evaluators understand what is and is not possible (or advisable) in afterschool evaluations and to help practitioners serve as more effective partners by anticipating evaluator assumptions and other challenges that can derail a study. This article addresses a broad spectrum of research designs, from formative assessments to confirmatory analyses, in varied OST settings. In the authors experience, regardless of the intended audience for the report or the level of rigor in the study design, evaluators transitioning to afterschool are challenged by a common set of issues related to data collection and communication. This article addresses those challenges.

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