Measurements of Fidelity of Implementation and Knowledge Outcomes for the Teaching of the STEP Prog.

Evaluation Problem:

Current social and cultural conditions demand an understanding by parents; the need for their children to become good at making choices, and a need for parents to consider modifying their parenting styles are keys to effective parenting (Dinkermeyer, Mckay & Dinkermeyer, 1997). In order for parents to modify their parenting styles, they must obtain research based parenting knowledge that will assist with modifying and enhancing their abilities to effectively parent their children.

Research Question:

When the Systematic Training for Effective Parenting curriculum is taught to

a parental education support group, will parent participants display an increase in curricular knowledge under conditions that express a high amount of fidelity?

Goal of Evaluative Proposal:

The goal of this evaluation is to evaluate if group members have learned program objectives that relate to good parenting and to evaluate if implementation conditions meet standards of high fidelity.
This proposal has three objectives:

1. To increase level of knowledge:

Literary Support: Quantitative methods and the use of a pre and post test evaluate learning outcomes in relation to fidelity of implementation (Mark, 1996).

Activities: Administer a quantitative method; initial pre and post test knowledge survey.

2. To verify through a single-person observation of implementation standards:

Literary Support: Research shows that facilitators who have standards of implementation that are connected to key elements of high fidelity assist’s in effective teaching (Dusenbury, Branningan, Falco, & Hansen, 2003). Single-subject design methods through direct-observation are employed to evaluate direct service processes (Mark, 1996).

Activities: Single-subject design method with direct observation by curriculum expert; analyze facilitator’s utilization and expression of standards of implementation regarding the curriculum over eight sessions. A noticeable increase in expressive skill should be indicated.

3. To monitor member’s motivation to attend all eight sessions:

Literary Support: Attendance is required if a member is expected to learn all course objectives.

Activities: Analyze client log to gain insight on percentage of attendance.

Problematic Conditions

Currently values of authoritarian parenting no longer are functional avenues for parenting (Dinkermeyer, et al., 1997). Children need authoritative parenting in which they have choices and feelings of control regarding their behavior and consequences; this will prepare them for the ever complicated and changing society in which we now live (Dinkermeyer, et al., 1997). Reducing much of the stress within family systems through education can also reduce the chances of violence against children and others within the home (Bird & Melville, 1994). This research is why court systems order some parents to mandatory parental educational support groups such as the STEP program. Divorce and blended families are now more than ever a consistent fabric within the family structures of society. These changes and transitions within family systems demand greater understandings of ones role, structure and perceptions (Gelles, 1995). According to Bird & Melville (1994) standards and expectations are also reevaluated in blended families. Parenting educational support groups such as STEP assist with identifying the child and parents roles, the expectations, and finding positive ways to address the child’s behavior. It is also clearly understood that there is no exam or licensing that declares parents are ready or understand the difficulty and challenges of parenting. Many at times need a great deal of support to help deal with the challenges of parenting especially if their child is suffering from a disability or medical condition (Barkley, 2005). According to Hunter, (2005) parents need emotional and social support. The existence of parenting educational support groups can assist in giving parents an opportunity of meeting these needs (Hunter, 2005). These groups also allow parents to speak their voice regarding ideas, desires, fears, and acknowledgments that parents would ordinarily have no one to turn to for expression (Hunter, 2005). Problem solving is an excellent benefit with parenting group membership; many parents are able to solve problems in more effective ways due to the experiences and input of others in the group (Hunter, 2005).

The STEP curriculum, although thorough and clear in theoretical meaning and application for assisting parents in gaining research based knowledge is worth little if members are not monitored for attendance and if the facilitator does not display standards of implementation. Standards include, organization, good understanding of the course objectives, utilize direct and specific speaking skills, retain good eye contact, and ask open ended questions. These standards relate directly to key elements of high fidelity such as, teacher training and teacher characteristics which are very important regarding fidelity of implementation (Dusenbury, et al., 2003).

Research Design

The primary research designed to be utilized to address the increase in objective curricular knowledge regarding objective one, is a quantitative one-group pretest – posttest design. According to Mark (1996) this type of research design is an improvement over a one shot case study design. With this design the creation and implementation of a knowledge survey based upon curricular chapter objectives for all eight sessions in order to measure an increase in knowledge is imperative (Mark, 1996). The second objective will utilize a quantitative single-subject design with direct observation by a curriculum expert who will utilize a research based Likert Scale survey to observe and indicate if the teaching facilitator of the parental educational support group implements and expresses standards that promotes conditions of high fidelity during the teaching of each of the eight sessions. According to Mark (1996) single-subject design is appropriate for use of evaluative procedures during observations of direct service. The third objective will utilize a qualitative analysis of the group attendance log to obtain an overall mean score of attendance.

The primary quantitative one-group pre and post test design can be expressed in the following terms; O1 represents the selected participants prior to the implementation of the STEP curriculum. X represents the STEP curriculum implementation phase. O2 represents post group participants after program implementation.

Participants will be purposively and randomly chosen from the incoming referral listing within the Catholic Charities Prevention Department. The individuals will be chosen by order and time of referral. Participants will be contacted and informed of their opportunity to participate within the evaluated parent education support group. Once the evaluator is notified that all six participants have agreed to participate with the evaluation, a date, location and time will be confirmed for first session.

Strengths regarding the chosen one-group pre and post test design with knowledge survey includes maintaining a minimal point of comparison in which can be measured for increases in learned knowledge of curriculum objectives (Mark, 1996). This design process is easy to implement and does not require a control group process (Mark, 1996). However; because this is a one-group pre and post test design; without a control group process, the following processes must be addressed to increase internal validity: Participants will be monitored for client functioning and cognitive understanding. Measures utilized for the pre and post test knowledge survey will be multiple, will be identical in pre and post test implementation, and based upon curriculum research objectives. Every consideration and effort will be taken to assure a quiet and available learning environment. Clients chosen will be confirmed as first time participants to the STEP parenting curriculum to avoid repeat parental referrals.

Strengths regarding the single-subject design process include; the ability to observe and collect data in order to understand if there was a change in behavior and if certain interventions were the causation of the change in behavior (Mark, 1996). However, because an observation requires the detailed examination of detailed information, the following processes must be addressed to increase internal validity: The trained observer will be certified within the STEP curriculum, will be a trained public speaker, and will be in possession of session objectives during the observation. The observer will utilize a Likert Scale survey with multiple items based upon communication and curriculum research. The items and measures will be identical over eight separate group sessions. Participants will be monitored for attendance in order to assess periods of drop out over the period of eight sessions.

Sample Design & Selection

For the purpose of this evaluation a random purposeful sample will be utilized. Criteria includes the referral or voluntary joining of the STEP parent support group. Those participants who join or are referred during the selection process will be asked to participate. Information will be gathered from inner agency referral listings, participants will be notified by phone. In effort to retain participants and to reduce low participation and attrition, a reinforcing incentive of $50.00 for attending all eight sessions will be offered to participants. Participants will be given $10.00 upon first session attendance, $20.00 upon fourth session attendance, and $20.00 payment upon eighth session attendance. The members will be told of the reinforcement payment prior to participation, however, they will not be told what sessions in which they will receive each payment in an effort to promote consistent attention.

In regard to participant confidentiality and ethical obligations a number of steps will be taken to ensure and protect participants. Participants will be informed by phone and upon the first day of group that their participation is voluntary (Royse, Thyer, Padgett & Logan, 2006). The purpose of the study, the duration of the program implementation, evaluation, and confirmation of group location will be discussed (Royse, et al., 2006). Topics, acknowledgement of an outside expert observer, and process procedures will also be discussed with all participants prior to participation (Royse, et al., 2006). An understanding of the benefits of the evaluation and the risk or dangers of the evaluation process for participants will be a priority (Royse, et al., 2006). If dangers or risk are found to exist, the evaluation process will cease. Confidentiality will be considered to be of the up most of importance and individuals if they choose to volunteer for the evaluation will not expose their names upon evaluative instrumentation, instead will be informed prior and issued a number (01 – 06) in regards to identifying each of the six participants (Royse, et al., 2006). Every effort will be taken to disclose the identity of the participants (Royse, et al., 2006). The expert observer, the trained facilitator, and group members will sign a statement of confidentiality in regards to the sharing of identities of participants. Participants will sign a project permission document as seen in (Appendix D). The reinforcement pay for consistent attendance will be acknowledged and participants will be informed of the amount they will receive for their participation (Royse, et al., 2006). Participants will be informed that they have the right to withdraw from the evaluation group at anytime (Royse, et al., 2006). However, non-voluntary court appointed individuals will be informed that upon voluntary withdraw from the evaluation they will be referred to another parenting group that will meet the requirements of the court.
Measurement – (See Appendix B for Instrument / Itemized Measure examples)

The outcome evaluation will seek to measure through the implementation of a pre and post test if an increase in knowledge was found significant. The knowledge survey and itemized measures will be based upon the research based information that has constructed each of the sixteen objectives within the STEP parenting program curriculum. A total of sixteen itemized measures based upon curriculum objectives over eight sessions will be constructed with a true or false option of choice as seen in (Appendix C). These measures are considered to be at the interval level. Each measure is considered to be valued as one point. To increase validity and reliability the pre and post knowledge survey will be constructed with clear instructions, items will be clear, explanatory and direct (Mark, 1996). The instrumentation and measures will meet human subject standards and be examined by a panel of experts.

The process evaluation will seek to measure if conditions represented high fidelity based upon the expression and implementation by the facilitator over eight teaching sessions of five measurable items that relate to good communication and curriculum information. An expert observer and trained public speaker will observe each session to verify expressed standards. The measurable standards are research based and constructed by the researcher for the purpose of the process observation evaluation.

The measurable standards are as follows;

Standard one: According to Franken & Gelman (1998), reviewing with good understanding and preparing to explain information to others is an important process in the explanation of any materials. Standard two: Ryan & Kuhs, (1993) identifies that organization of presentation notes and materials is a more affective way of teaching.
Standard three: According to Westra (1996), using direct and specific speaking skills allows the clients to communicate and effectively understand the exchanged messages (p.115). Standard four: According to Westra (1996) good eye contact is a very important non-verbal behavior to use in a consistent and periodic manner in order for the worker and client to retain good attention (p.62) . Standard five: According to Fine & Glasser (1996) asking open ended questions should be utilized in order for the facilitator or teacher to gain a clear message of how the listener is understanding the message. According to Fine & Glasser (1996) open ended questions allow expression of feelings and processes relevant to communicating understanding (p.69). The response by the listeners should reveal and allow the expression of feelings and processes relevant to communicating understanding of the curriculum.

The Likert Scale measuring numerals were constructed by the researcher for this current process observation evaluation.

These measuring variables should be chosen according to the observations of the curriculum expert and the level of expression by the teaching facilitator should be clearly indicated. The level of measurement based upon the constructed questioner and measures can be clarified as ordinal. To increase validity and reliability the observation questioner will also be constructed with clear instructions, items will be clear and based on research, explanatory and direct (Mark, 1996). The instrumentation and measures will also meet human subject standards and be examined by a panel of experts.

The evaluation of the client log will be monitored by the expert observer after each session. The observer will sustain a weekly log indicating attendance over the 8 week period. Issues of validity and reliability include: The curriculum expert observer verifying through observation the attendance of correct number of participants for each session based upon member’s assigned numbers (See Appendix E).


The analysis of interval level data regarding the outcome evaluation can be represented through a pre and post test chart. The facilitator will be required to give clear instructions regarding testing procedures upon the first meeting prior to session instruction. The facilitator will be required to retrieve all six knowledge based surveys when all group members have finished the examination process. The facilitator will collect instruments and place them into a safe keeping area under lock and key until time of analysis. In conclusion of the eighth session the facilitator will repeat the entire process exactly as within the first session. Upon collection of all examinations, instrumentation will be placed in a sealed envelope and given to the researcher. The researcher will perform a Paired T-Test Analysis comparing increases in group performance from pre test to post test. The total number of possible correct answers on each examination is (16). Because there are six participants, there is a group total of (96) possible point’s per session. The analysis includes the calculation of the group-mean score per session by summing the total number of correct answers per session and dividing each session total by the number of participants which is (6) in (Figure 1.3). Group performance percentage can be calculated by dividing the number of items correct by the number of possible points within each pre or post session. The actual increase in group percentage performance can be represented by calculating the difference between pre test percentage correct and post test percentage correct. The standard deviation can be correlated by using the simple standard score converter (North Central Association, 2007). This converter requires that the researcher enter the correct mean scores per pre and post sessions (NCA, 2007).

The analysis of the ordinal level data regarding the process observation evaluation can be represented in itemized terms over the extent of eight sessions as indicated. Within the observational data there are two primary areas of interest. First, the total number of expressed variables based upon perceived level of expression. These variables are itemized and expressed in mean and percentage of total points expressed by the facilitator over eight sessions. During the eight week process the observer is instructed to place each sessions observation information into sealed envelopes and placed under lock and key. The researcher will collect all 8 surveys from the expert observer at the end of the 8th session. The researcher will list each standard of expressive item upon a graph. Each item will be allocated with the number indicated regarding expression of the item based on observation within each session. The sum of the total number of points expressed per item over eight sessions is calculated. The sum of all items points over eight sessions is calculated and divided by eight sessions to calculate the mean score. The total amount of expressed points earned vs. the total number of points possible over eight sessions per item is indicated and can be calculated in percentage form by dividing the amount earned by the total amount of points possible (40).

Secondly, the researcher will be particularly interested in the identifying and documenting of the percentage of increase in progressive skill expression. The curriculum expert observer within each session as indicated prior gives an indicated level of expression for each item. As indicated below it is possible to identify a progressive percentage increase in performance of the facilitator over all eight sessions. This is possible by dividing each numeral (1,2,3,4,5) as indicated within (Appendix B) of the observational instrument. Each numeral can be clarified as 20% of a total possible point attainment for each item, in each session up to 5 or 100% of possible expression. This representation can express the total percentage of progress regarding expression of the standard items from session one through session eight.

Analysis of client log will include the listing of all six members per session. Log information will also be placed in envelopes over eight sessions and placed under lock and key until final analysis by researcher. Each member will indicated the time, date and group member identity number as mentioned earlier for ensured confidentiality and as seen in (Appendix E). The researcher will indicate through analysis the total percentage of participation in each session. This can be done by dividing the number of members who actually attended by the maximum number of possible participants. Deviations and low percentages in attendance within certain sessions could explain possible differences and incorrect answers upon post test surveys rather than inferring the low score to low fidelity of implementation. This can be analyzed by the researcher through examining the date of member’s absence, the incorrect question, the related objective to the question, and the week in which the objective curricular information would have been taught.

In concluding, it is important to understand that parents in today’s modern society need effective knowledge based information that will assist with making clear and effective decisions when parenting their children. The rapidly changing environment demands that children interact and develop in an environment in which making choices and authoritative parenting is the hallmark of the family system. The overall goal of this evaluation proposal is to evaluate if group members have learned program objectives that relate to good parenting and to evaluate if implementation conditions meet standards of high fidelity. Because of this goal of measuring knowledge outcomes and observing if the curriculum was taught in a way in which group members could effectively understand curriculum objectives, this evaluation requires outcome and process evaluations through quantitative pre and post t-test measures, single-subject design observations with quantitative Likert Scale standard measures and a quantitative analysis of attendance percentages. It is expected that a correlation between an expected increase in knowledge, conditions of high fidelity based upon facilitator compliance in teaching objectives and consistent attendance by group members would be represented within final analysis when proposed evaluation is implemented. With the finalized understanding of increased knowledge by group members it is desired that group members will utilize obtained research based knowledge to effectively assist them in parenting their children.

Laverne J. Riley Jr.

University of Michigan

School of Social Work

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