A three-phase procedural model guides the operationalization of institute activities. Phase I involves conceptualization, knowledge generation, and the production of practice-based syntheses of relevant research. Phase II involves the translation of research findings into evidence-based practices and the use of different implementation methods for promoting use of these practices. Phase III involves both the dissemination of Institute findings and strategies for promoting utilization of evidence-based practices.
Conceptualization refers to the theory, model, or operational framework that is used to guide the development and implementation of a study or intervention, or the theory, model, or operational framework that is developed or constructed as a result of research or practice, or both. Conceptualization involves the identification and definition of the concepts, factors, and variables that are the focus of investigation or practice, and the explication of the relationship among different variables. A major focus of Institute research and practice is the understanding of the relationship between the characteristics of environmental experiences and opportunities and the manner in which variations in characteristics are related to variations in outcomes.
Knowledge generation refers to the systematic collection of data, information, evidence, results, etc. from applied research, model-demonstration projects, and other activities by identifying the characteristics and consequences that inform the practice. Institute staff generate knowledge in different ways, but no matter the source of the knowledge, the emphasis is on unpacking and understanding how the characteristics and qualities of environmental experiences and opportunities function as interventions affecting behavior and development. A variety of quantitative and qualitative methodologies and approaches is used for knowledge generation.
Practice-based research syntheses refers to the systematic integration of bodies of research that have examined similar practices and similar outcomes with an emphasis on understanding the characteristics and consequences of the practices and the mechanisms operating to produce positive outcomes. Our research syntheses differ from more traditional approaches to integration of research findings by their explicit focus on the characteristics of practices that are associated with positive consequences and that directly inform practitioners and parents about what they can do to implement evidence-based practices.
Evidence-based practices refers to the intervention protocols, methods, and guidelines, etc. substantiated by and informed by research. Different kinds of practice guides produced in different formats (text, CDs, video, PowerPoint presentations, etc.) are developed in ways that mirror the key characteristics of practices found from our knowledge generation and research synthesis activities, and when implemented as intended, increase the likelihood that the practice will have the intended consequences.
Implementation methods refers to the strategies and procedures used to promote practitioners' and parents' use of evidence-based practices. We are investigating the usefulness of different adult learning methods and strategies for promoting use of evidence-based practices. The different methods and strategies are ones that involve parents and practitioners actively in the use of practice guides in ways building and strengthening their capacity.
Dissemination refers to the methods, products, materials, and strategies for promoting broad-based distribution of information about research-based practices. A variety of traditional and nontraditional approaches are used for disseminating Institute products and materials. One major focus is web-based dissemination using an extensive e-mail database of practitioners and early childhood programs throughout the United States.
Utilization refers to the methods, procedures,
and strategies used to promote adoption of evidence-based practices. Our main
emphasis is the identification of methods that increase the use of practice
guides and other Institute strategies by parents and practitioners with whom
we have no direct contact. The utility of norm-referenced social marketing
and consumer science techniques is being explored as alternative ways of promoting