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Internal validity is “the ability of the study design to allow accurate casual inferences regarding program outcome(s)” (BU, 2015). There are seven threats to any program evaluation in terms of internal validity and they are: maturation, history, selection, attrition, regression, testing, and instrumentation. As far as the program I chose to evaluate, the two threats I will be attempting to avoid are maturation and history.
Maturation is a threat that is internal to the individual participant. “It is the possibility that mental or physical changes occur within the participants themselves that could account for the evaluation results” (BU, 2015). In terms to this threat affecting my program evaluation is looking at the conservation efforts from not only the finalists of the Indianapolis Prize, but also the Indianapolis Zoo from one-time period to another. The Indianapolis Prize is aimed at enforcing the Zoo’s mission of conservation and animal welfare both locally and globally. The Prize is given every two years, which is quite a long time frame that could increase conservation efforts or decrease. One way to protect my program from this threat would be to reduce the amount of time between the pretest and posttest. For instance, I can complete the pretest when the finalists for the Prize are announced and the posttest (instead of two years later) a month or two after the Gala.
A second threat for my program evaluation is history. The internal validity threat of history refers to, “observed program results may be explained by events or experiences (external) that impact the individual between program participation and follow up” (BU, 2015). Program results can be impacted from a variety of external events or changes and that is why history is a necessary internal validity threat to examine. In regards to the Indianapolis Prize, a black-tie Gala is held to acknowledge the finalists and the winners. This Gala can have a large media coverage and possibly affect the outcome of the program. Through the media coverage of the Gala, conservation efforts could increase, but for how long? History is much like maturation, in that follow-up time is a key to reducing this threat.
Reference:Boston University School of Public Health (2015). Program Evaluation: Internal & External Validity, Retrieved from: http://sphweb.bumc.bu.edu/otlt/mph-modules/programevaluation/ProgramEvaluation6.html
Internal Validity is define as the, “approximate truth about inferences regarding cause-effect or causal relationships.” (Trochim, 2006) So, in other words the evidence that one has is based on results from the program that was able to be seen. The threats that I will be avoiding while conducting my program evaluation will be maturation and history.
Maturation is known as “a threat that is internal to the individual participant.” (BU, 2015) “The possibility that mental or physical changes occur within the participants themselves that could account for the evaluation results.” (BU, 2015) Normally, when the time from the beginning to the end of the program is increased the maturation threat is much greater. This is important to my program because the staff that is being trained works directly with juveniles/ children and they are still in mental/ physical changes. They are also dealing with their own personal traumas. So, if the mission is maintained then the restoration of the juvenile population can be done. The best way to prevent this threat would be to produce a pretest and posttest on the information being taught throughout our training program. This will ensure the correctional officers progress from the beginning of the course to the end. This will help measure the progress made.
History is defined as, “observed program results may be explained by events or experiences (external) that impact the individual between program participation and follow up.” (BU, 2015) History is a key component within my program as of now. SC Department of Juvenile Justice is plastered all over the news right due to issues within the agency as a whole. This could and has been portraying a very negative perception of the agency among those within the state. Now, this can be change by maintaining positive reporting from media sources. This will not happen until there is a positive change made to the problem areas within a timely manner such as two months rather than a year. It is just hard because most news outlets are likely to report the negative rather than the positive, but it starts from us first.
Boston University School of Public Health (2015). Program Evaluation: Internal & External Validity. Retrieved on February 18, 2017 from: http://sphweb.bumc.bu.edu/otlt/mph-modules/programevaluation/ProgramEvaluation6.html
Trochim, W. (2006). Research Methods Knowledge Base: Internal Validity. Retrieved on February 18, 2017 from http://www.socialresearchmethods.net/kb/intval.php