CWEALF provides program evaluation services for a wide variety of state agencies and government funded programs. CWEALF staff has evaluated services for Connecticut's Department of Education, Department of Labor, Workforce Investment Boards, and the Office for Workforce Competitiveness. While these reports are not for general distribution, we provide a description of several of the projects CWEALF has been involved in over the past few years.
Adult Learning/Career Ladders
The Bridges to Health Careers Training Program (Bridges), funded through the Career Ladder Initiative, was designed with the goal of providing a ‘bridge' for Certified Nursing Assistants to prepare them for continued study in a more advanced allied health career or a related field. Three cohorts of students were recruited to the pilot program. CWEALF staff conducted an evaluation of the project in both years of implementation with input from the Bridges Oversight Committee, faculty, support personnel and students. CWEALF examined program design, implementation and outcomes, conducted research on best practices in community college and career ladder programming and made recommendations relative to the program elements.
Allied Health Pipeline Study
With the Charter Oak Group, CWEALF staff documented the challenges and opportunities facing the Waterbury Public School System as they attempt to address shortages in the allied health workforce pipeline. Interviews were conducted with school personnel, college faculty and employer representatives to outline the skills needed for employment in health care fields and the strengths and weaknesses of the current high school curriculum. In addition, recommendations were made related to recruitment and retention of health care students in both secondary and post-secondary education.
Blended Learning Environments
CWEALF was charged with evaluating the effectiveness of blended learning environments and the use of Moodle, a course management system designed to help educators create online learning environments. CWEALF staff examined available research about the use of blended learning in various settings, reviewed materials written by practitioners in the learning environment, and gathered information about the gendered experience in computer-mediated settings. CWEALF staff reviewed Moodle postings by students, teachers and mentors, and analyzed survey data from student and teacher respondents participating in Moodle-mediated learning. Based on their findings, CWEALF staff provided an assessment of the strengths and challenges of blended learning environments and recommendations on how to improve programs which use a blended learning framework.
One Stop Career Centers
CWEALF staff, as part of a team of researchers, assessed the effectiveness of Connecticut's One Stop Career Centers. Designed to serve unemployed and underemployed workers and employers, these One Stop Centers provide critical information, services and resources that address local labor market needs. Using qualitative and quantitative data collection and analysis, the research documented strengths of these Centers and well as barriers to customer usage. The recommendations developed as part of this effort focused on improvements in customer service, the development of key partnerships and the leveraging of additional resources to meet the needs of workers.
Welfare to Work
Over the past 8 years, CWEALF has conducted research on the state's Jobs First Employment Services System, by documenting system barriers and client challenges in the transition from welfare to work. In the past two years, CWEALF has evaluated new initiatives to provide education and training opportunities to welfare recipients, subsidized employment, and combined basic education and vocational skills programs. Following the release of our research reports, CWEALF staff works closely with state agency staff to implement changes in the system to better meet the needs of clients.