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Program Implementation: Home

Guide for research on program implementation, focusing on educational programs. Created Spring 2017.

Program Implementation


Rachelle H. Haynik, MPA 2017, formerly taught high school math with Teach for America, Eastern North Carolina. In studying Policy Research & Analysis, she decided to complete an independent study course on implementation to fill in her questions about the case studies she had read. This LibGuide is the result of that independent study course, supervised by Dr. Ilia Murtazashvili.


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Why Implementation?

How implementation works in some policy analysts' minds

As a GSPIA student, I noticed a pattern in the case studies we read. In each case, a policy or project is recommended with full stakeholder support; statistical data backs up its claims. Everything seems to point toward project success. But somewhere in the implementation phase, something goes wrong. This pattern was common enough that I decided to study program implementation as a topic. Before this semester-long project, I was unaware of the field of implementation studies, which became a focus of my research. This LibGuide will give future students an idea of where to start their own research on program implementation for policy studies in general and education policy specifically.

I created this guide during the Spring 2017 semester as partial fulfillment of an independent study on program implementation. As of writing, GSPIA does not have a course specifically on implementation, yet in many case studies, implementation seems to be the key to a successful project. Regardless of in-depth planning or good intentions, a project or program has the greatest chance of success with strategic thought about its implementation.

The Program Evaluation Cycle

CDC Program Evaluation GraphicProgram evaluation frameworks, like this one from the CDC, rarely mention implementation. If this stage is referred to at all, the reference is brief and shallow. The implication is that with stakeholder support, the right evaluation design, and good evidence, a program's implementation should go off without a hitch. Unfortunately, this means that the ability to actually study implementation is constrained by lack of research and few resources. When something does go wrong in an implementation, little guidance exists for how to fix it or prevent that issue in the next project.