White Papers, Issue Briefs, and Articles

Our white papers, issue briefs, and articles spotlight areas of improvement for social policies and programs, changing the way we see the world a little bit at a time.

White Papers, Issue Briefs, and Articles

Conducting Health Surveys During the COVID-19 Pandemic: Lessons Learned From the Medicare FFS CAHPS

In this issue brief, Lyndsay Huey and Debra Wright summarize Insight’s experience conducting the FFS CAHPS during the 2020 and 2021 COVID-19 pandemic. We describe modifications that allowed the data collection to continue, the impact of COVID-19 on survey response, and recommendations for planning to conduct large-scale federal data collections during adverse events. The authors attribute successful survey implementation to contingency planning and early strategy discussions that promote safety and balance agency priorities.

Exploring Core Components Research in Social Services Settings

This brief, authored by Rachel Holzwart, Hilary Wagner, and Megan Worden, summarizes key themes from the 2020 Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation Methods Meeting on using core components approaches in social services settings. Core components of effective interventions are the “essential functions and principles that define the program and are judged as being necessary to produce outcomes in a typical service setting” (Blase & Fixsen). Core components approaches can complement traditional social policy evidence building, provide information needed to successfully adapt programs across a variety of conditions, and determine which intervention elements are critical to achieving desired results and delivering benefit to participants.

Resource Guide: Addressing Student Engagement in Nonacademic Activities During the COVID-19 Pandemic

As a partner to UNCF in their Career Pathways Initiative, Insight helped postsecondary institutions increase student engagement in noninstructional activities and career services during the COVID-19 pandemic. As part of these efforts, Insight created a resource guide consisting of curated strategies and tools to help the institutions address challenges and effectively engage students during this difficult time. In addition to providing basic strategies to increase student engagement, the resource guide provides guidance about how to build virtual communities, effectively use social media, and transition career services offerings to virtual settings. Insight compiled the resource guide using publicly available sources and data drawn from interviews with students, faculty, and staff.

Resource Guide: Supporting Student Mental Health at Postsecondary Institutions

This research guide, written by Insight’s education experts supporting UNCF’s Career Pathways Initiative, is designed to help postsecondary institutions support student mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic. The resource guide addresses key questions regarding the mental health challenges students face as a result of COVID-19 disruptions. It includes best practices from the field, strategies that help define these challenges, ideas for how to identify students in need of support, and suggestions on how to develop a strategy to attend to students’ mental health needs. The resource guide was compiled from publicly available sources.

Methods, Challenges, and Best Practices for Conducting Subgroup Analysis

This brief, authored by Insight’s Andrew Breck and Breanna Wakar, discusses the key features of a well-designed and implemented subgroup analysis. Subgroup analysis enables researchers to determine whether policy or program impacts vary across groups. While the brief focuses mainly on a multiple regression framework, it also provides an overview of alternative approaches to conducting subgroup analyses.

OPRE 2019 Methods Meeting Resources List

This resource list, compiled by Insight’s Dani Hansen and Rachel Holzwart, documents references, tools, and websites for readers wanting to learn more about open science methods. “Open science” represents a broad movement to make research, data, and findings more transparent, accessible, and replicable throughout the research process. This document highlights federal initiatives and policies that support open science, the process of registering study plans in a repository before beginning a research project, reproducibility and replicability, and managing and sharing data.

Promising Practices Brief: Improving Student Engagement and Attendance During COVID-19 School Closures

Nationwide school closures during the COVID-19 pandemic have created an unprecedented level of activity in the online learning space. The move toward remote learning has created questions about whether and how attendance should be taken and measured in an online environment and the importance of meaningful remote engagement that leads to learning. In this promising practices brief, Insight and AIR share an overview of the research on engagement and attendance in online environments, and the findings from our conversations with five districts across the country about their efforts to support student attendance and engagement. This paper was funded by the US Department of Education’s national technical assistance center for addressing chronic absence. Read the Executive Summary HERE.

Foreign Military Physical Fitness Assessments

The U.S. Army’s approach to assessing physical fitness and well-being has changed over the years, with an increasing focus on evidence-based assessments that reduce injury and better predict Service members’ success in their occupational specialties. This report, authored by Insight’s military and veteran support team for the Defense Advisory Committee on Women in the Services (DACOWITS), provides an overview of the approach and history of physical fitness assessments used in the U.S. Army and describes approaches used by foreign militaries to implement physical fitness assessments. The report outlines the conclusions and implications for DACOWITS, suggesting that as DACOWITS continues to study the U.S. Military Services’ physical fitness assessments, foreign military approaches to these assessments can provide additional context and information.

Military and Nonmilitary Careers: Youth Perceptions, Aspirations, and Influences

Recognizing how youth perceive different types of careers may provide a valuable foundation for understanding how to best promote military career opportunities. Insight’s military and veteran support team conducted this literature review for the Defense Advisory Committee on Women in the Services (known as DACOWITS) on perceptions of careers and early career aspirations among the nation’s youth. The review explores youth career perceptions and development, career influences, and strategies and best practices for influencing youth career decisions, both in general and within the context of military service.

Employee Retention and Engagement in the Civilian Labor Force

Voluntary turnover in the United States is estimated to have cost organizations approximately $536 billion in 2016. Given the costs associated with hiring and training new employees, companies unable to retain key staff fight an uphill battle to remain competitive. This literature review, authored by Insight’s military and veteran support team, describes employee retention trends in the United States and summarizes strategies civilian industry uses to measure and better understand factors that influence retention and employee engagement. It presents an overview of best practices used by civilian industrial organizations to improve retention, including a special focus on caregiver leave and sabbaticals. The report concludes with a synthesis of lessons learned and implications for the military.