Randomization and Its Discontents
The USAID-funded MEASURE Evaluation project is hosting a series of webinar discussions of the popular MEASURE Evaluation manual, How Do We Know If a Program Made a Difference? A Guide to Statistical Methods for Program Impact Evaluation (Lance P, Guilkey D, Hattori A, Angeles G, 2014). Each webinar in the series will review key topics from a chapter through verbal discussion and graphical presentation. The webinar series will enable participants to understand the resources offered in the manual, a learning tool for use of methods to estimate program impact. The series will also provide stand-alone training tools for the topics covered. MEASURE Evaluation’s goal with these webinars is to provide a highly interactive learning opportunity to participants (please ask questions!).
The second webinar in the series, entitled “Randomization and Its Discontents” will take place June 29 at 10am EDT. This webinar will consider the impact evaluation strategy of randomization of participation in a program. This approach is often referred to as randomized control trials. Though deliberate randomization is typical, there have been cases where it was accidental or unrelated to any explicit ex-ante evaluation goals. The webinar will consider the basic theory behind the randomization approach, illustrate some evaluations that rely on it, briefly discuss different methods of randomization, and then turn toward skepticism and criticism surrounding the randomization strategy.
The first webinar in the series, held March 31, was entitled “Fundamentals of Program Impact Evaluation.” It addressed the basic challenges of program impact estimation. It can now be viewed online. Subsequent webinars will cover the major quasi-experimental impact estimation techniques: selection on observables approaches (such as multiple regression and matching); within estimation (such as difference-in-differences); and finally instrumental variables methods.