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Current Projects

We go beyond our technical skills as researchers and methodologists and work to truly understand your specific needs. With that in mind, our studies provide the necessary data and recommendations that drive change, efficiency and improvements. Explore our list of current projects to see what Hezel Associates' experts have been working on.


Syracuse Diocese Office of Faith Formation Needs Assessment (2017-2018)

Hezel Associates, LLC recently worked with the Roman Catholic Diocese of Syracuse to assist with reforming efforts of Faith Formation practices across the Syracuse Diocese. The Syracuse Diocese is not immune to some of the challenges facing the Catholic community. Like many Dioceses across the nation, Syracuse is witnessing declining participation in parish life, and Catholic life in general, in terms of Faith Formation programming. Discussions with the Diocese of Syracuse staff alluded to significant decline in weekly Mass participation, as well as decline in enrollment in faith formation and sacramental preparation programs.

There are a variety of factors as to why these changes are occurring, including, but not limited to: competing cultural and secular demands and philosophies, inadequate catechesis, and a lack of conversion among the baptized. Local population decline may also be attributed to decreases in the Central New York region. These declines, along with fewer vocations to the priesthood, have resulted in the closing of some parishes. In an effort to meet the needs of those who continue to practice their faith, some parishes have merged, while others have adopted a pastoral care areas (PCAs) model.

Given this background, the overarching purpose of the study was to provide information to guide Diocesan leadership in planning to meet the evangelization and catechetical needs of individuals and parishes, with a focus on aligning the role of the Office of Faith Formation to meet these needs. In addition, the research explored (a) the current state of Faith Formation at the parish level, (b) ways the Faith Formation Office can best support Parishes, and (c) current promising practices occurring within the Syracuse Diocese and nationally. The study was designed to learn from stakeholders, and take a bottom-up approach to planning, by gathering input from those directly involved in delivering Faith Formation programs at the parish. 


EdAdvance STEM + C Research Partnership (2017-2020)

EdAdvance received a National Science Foundation STEM + Computing Partnerships (STEM+C) grant to integrate newly developed, digital computer science learning modules into existing science courses. These reingeengineered courses will develop and advance students’ computing competencies and skills using a challenge-based learning model, an intervention named STEM21+CS. Further, the project will produce a replicable instructional model for integrating computing and computational thinking across secondary STEM courses of study.edadvance

Hezel Associates has been engaged as a research partner to investigate the approaches and conditions that support the integration of computing skills into core science content. More specifically, employing a quasi-experimental research design, Hezel Associates will examine (a) the impact of STEM21+CS on students’ 1) STEM and computing self-efficacy; 2) STEM and CS career and education interest; 3) computing skills; and 4) 21st century inquiry skills; (b) how features of STEM21+CS, and integrated PD components, engage teachers in the delivery of coursework; and (c) students and teachers’ reactions to obstacles that arise during innovation challenge project (ICP) development. In addition to these research efforts, Hezel Associates will oversee the project’s summative evaluation activities, assessing if the proposed intervention methods are effective in producing intended outcomes. 

Syracuse University’s NSF IUSE Evaluation (2017-2019)

Syracuse University’s (SU) School of Education received grant funding from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to develop and test the Elementary Science Simulations to Advance Undergraduate Elementary Teacher Preparation (ELEM-SIM) project. Specifically, SU is implementing clinical simulations in hopes of improving future teachers’ preparation to teach science by filling the coursework-to-practice gap. Hezel Associates was hired to evaluate the implementation and outcomes of research and development (R&D) activities of SU’s ELEM-SIM project. SyracuseUniversityThis study is intended to examine the quality of the ELEM-SIM implementation, as well as the intellectual merit of the R&D and potential broader impacts.

To assess this process, evaluators will conduct interviews with project staff and review organizational documentation to determine fidelity of implementation, while invoking the Common Guidelines for Education Research and Development to assess R&D activities of the project team. These data will be analyzed separately and then compared and contrasted to give an overall picture of the implementation of the ELEM-SIM program. Evaluators will provide program staff with two formative data summaries to allow staff to make improvements to the project. At the end of the grant period, a final summative memo detailing evaluation findings will be provided to SU.

College of Mount Saint Vincent Minority Science and Engineering Improvement Program (2017-2019)

The College of Mount Saint Vincent (CMSV), a private nonprofit institution of higher education located in Bronx, NY, serves an inclusive and diverse population of talented and ambitious undergraduate students. CMSV meets the U.S. Department of Education’s designations as a Minority Serving Institution (MSI) and Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI). As a MSI and HSI, CMSV applied for and received funding to implement the Minority Science and Engineering Improvement Program (MSEIP), which seeks to address the lack of women and minorities in the science, technology, CMSVengineering, and math (STEM) fields. Through the addition of recitation hours, a STEM advisor, faculty research opportuinites, and STEM internships, CMSV hopes to see an increase in the number of students retained in STEM undergraduate programs, an increase in student GPAs in STEM courses, and an increase in the number of students applying to graduate programs or employed in STEM fields. Hezel Associates has been hired to evaluate the implementation of MSEIP program activities.

Hezel Associates will focus on the implementation of program activities as proposed as well as impact on intended student outcomes of engagement, perceptions of self-efficacy, and retention in the STEM field through employment or advanced degree study. The quality of implementation and impact will be assessed using a mixed methods approach, through (a) a student questionnaire to understand student perceptions about STEM courses; (b) data collected through review of program documentation; (c) interviews to understand implementation activities; and (d) an examination of existing student data such as retention, GPA, and selection of college major. These data will be analyzed separately and then compared and contrasted to give and overall picture of the program findings. Through brief, informal data sumamries, CMSV will be able to make informed decisions about program improvements. A final, comprehensive report will consider all findings in totality to answer the study’s research questions.

Piedmont Virginia Community College Fund for Excellence and Innovation Project (2017-2018)

Hezel Associates is currently serving as evaluator for Piedmont Valley Community College’s (PVCC) Fund for Excellence and Innovation project. Based on the SCHEV Guidelines for the Affordable Pathways Partnership Grant, and a logic model developed in partnership with PVCC, Hezel Associates has designed a mixed method approach to assess (a) implementation of grant-funded processes, considering both quantity and quality measures; and (b) outcomes of those efforts, both proximal and more distal to grant-funded activities.pvcc

Processes will be measured through a combination of (a) telephone interviews of PVCC and partner project staff members; (b) review of project documents and other artifacts of proposed activities (e.g., partnership building and curriculum development); and (c) content analysis of selected DACUM-developed curriculum materials. Outcomes will be assessed through analyses of (a) institutional data (e.g., enrollment records), and (b) results of a student questionnaire to be completed online by program participants in the Spring of 2018. Evaluation of the broader impact of the project will consider not only student outcomes (e.g., improved access to and completion of program offerings) but will also explore institutional changes resulting from the SCHEV-funded effort. This will be accomplished through an additional round of telephone interviews of key PVCC and partner staff members not directly involved in Fund for Excellence and Innovation activities.

Development of protocols and instrumentation to be applied to data collection will be informed by our recent experience evaluating U.S. Department of Labor Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training (TAACCCT) projects, and our evaluations of other workforce development projects in the Commonwealth of Virginia—the Kresge/Gates Jobs for the Future State-Level Student Success Center, and 5-school VCCS credit for prior learning and mentorship pilot programs funded under the DOL Virginia Veterans Services Demonstration program. Hezel Associates will provide PVCC with two annual data summaries, providing formative and summative feedback on grant progress and impact on stakeholders.

Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville NSF IUSE Evaluation (2016-2019)

EarthCaching for Pre-Service Tachers: Examining Attitudes and Intentions Towards Informal Science Learning

In June 2016, Southern Illinois University Edwardsville (SIUE) received grant funding from the National Science Foundation (NSF)  to develop and test an EarthCaching-based geoscience curriculum for science content taught to undergraduate education majors. Hezel Associates was hired to evaluate the implementation of the EathCaching project and the research and development activities of the project team. A qualitative evaluation was designed to monitor program implementation, assess the project’s effectivensiueess, and provide data-driven feedback to the client. The goal of this evaluation is to assess the intellectual merit of SIUE’s research and development activities as well as the broader impacts achieved by the project.

To achieve the goals of the evaluation, Hezel Associates researchers will collect data from program records and interviews with project staff. Program records will be reviewed against the project timeline and work plan, and interview data (collected annually) will be analyzed using an emergent scheme to identify themes . Researchers will provide program staff with two formative data summaries each year to allow staff to make improvements to the project. At the end of the grant period, a final summative report detailing all evaluation findings will be provided to SIUE.

EdAdvance CT Pathways to Innovation in Advanced Manufacturing Technologies and Entrepreneurship (2016-2019)

EdAdvance received a National Science Foundation Advanced Technological Education (ATE) grant to create a novel iteration of the Center for 21st Century Skills’ instructional model. The model is designed to engage predominately underrepresented students from diverse technical high schools and comprehensive high schools in challenge-based Advanced Manufacturing Technologies (AMT) coursework. The coursework is in close alignment with the Connecticut (CT) Advanced Manufacturing Initiative underway in the CT State Colleges and University system, including all 12 CT Community Colleges’ College of Technology technician degree programs. The proposededadvance curricula will engage students in design, research, refinement, and launching, to advance 21st century AMT core competencies, workforce readiness, and entrepreneurial skills. As the project external evaluator, Hezel Associates will provide independent oversight of internal project evaluation activities. 

The evaluation plan for the proposed CPI-AMTE project includes formative and summative elements, and a comparative quasi-experimental design study of Technical High School vs. Comprehensive High School project implementation sites. This comparative study will examine differences in fidelity of implementation and student outcomes, specifically entrepreneurial skill development, 21st century inquiry skill acquisition, mathematics and science engagement, college and career readiness, and career interest in STEM. The project’s internal evaluator will conduct the evaluation activities and a Hezel Associates researcher will oversee the project evaluation design and comparative study design, collaborate on logic model development, and prepare the summative evaluation. Hezel Associates’ continued oversight will assist program staff in making informed programmatic improvements.

The Education Initiative Evaluation (2016-2017)

The Rapides Foundation is an organization focused on improving public health in Central Louisiana. The Foundation operates with an evidence-based belief that a more educated population fosters a healthy population; therefore, improving K-12 education within the nine parishes in its service area is a priority. To that end, they have undertaken the Education Initiative, in which professional and leadership development (PD/LD) are provided to teaRapides Logochers and administrators in all nine parishes. Two types of training operate at the regional level and are facilitated by external sources: Kagan, a national teacher professional development provider, and the Center for Educational Leadership, a school leadership development provider from the University of Washington. The Foundation also awards Effective Schools Grants designed to meet specific PD/LD needs within individual districts.

Hezel Associates was hired to conduct a comprehensive evaluation of The Education Initiative. The evaluation consists of three separate, but interrelated components with distinct research questions: (a) a formative evaluation, examining the implementation fidelity and quality of the initiative components; (b) an efficacy study, investigating district and school differences in outcomes of interest (e.g., teacher and leader effectiveness and student achievement), and also includes targeted, qualitative case studies at the school level; and (c) a theory-building study to explore the initiative in the broader context of programs outside of Louisiana that are theoretically similar to the Foundation’s initiative.

The formative study is designed as a mixed methods study, in which data are collected via program-related documents, PD/LD participant knowledge assessments, PD/LD participant quality feedback questionnaires, observations of PD/LD sessions, a Support Quality Questionnaire administered to all teachers and administrators in the nine districts, superintendent and other stakeholder interviews, and a focus group with technical assistance staff. Analysis consists of descriptive statistics for quantitative data, a constant comparative method for qualitative narrative, and a synthesis of all data.

The efficacy study uses data provided by the Louisiana Department of Education. Hezel Associates will compute descriptive and inferential statistics (e.g., hierarchical linear modeling) to assess school-level factors related to desired outcomes. Regression modeling will allow for the identification of schools where case study research will be conducted, based on specific criteria that indicate the level of benefit they are receiving from the initiative. Finally, the theory-building study uses data collected in the formative and efficacy studies, and compares and contrasts findings to information gleaned from a literature review of similar initiatives nationwide.

Findings from the three studies will be included in a mid-year and an annual report, in addition to separate efficacy study reports. The theory-building study will result in an iterated logic model for the initiative. Collectively, these findings will serve to inform the Foundation of the success of the initiative’s components on short-term, intermediate, and long-term goals; provide feedback that can help improve programming; and assess how the initiative compares to similar work outside of the state.

Evaluation of the Rider University STEM-Ed NSF Noyce Project (2015-2021)

Rider University received funding from the National Science Foundation (NSF) Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship Program to implement STEM-Ed: A Grow-Your-Own Pipeline Program for Pre-Service Underrepresented High School Science Teachers. In addition to the traditional STEM and Education curriculum, STEM-Ed scholars will receive full-tuition scholarships, and will be trained in culturally Riderresponsive classroom management (CRCM) techniques as well as practices in science education for new civic-engagements and responsibilities (SENCER), which are hypothesized to promote retention in STEM teaching. This evaluation is intended to examine the quality of implementation of Rider University’s STEM-Ed project, as well as the affective, cognitive, and behavioral outcomes of its participants. Hezel Associates was hired to assess the implementation and impact of the project and the effectiveness of the proposed teacher development model in terms of its ability to recruit, prepare, and retain STEM students in teaching careers in high-need urban school districts.

Hezel Associates will use a mixed methods approach; specifically, researchers will use a convergent parallel design, where qualitative and quantitative data are collected separately and concurrently, in order to obtain adequate information for answering the research questions. Data will be collected through interviews with program staff and faculty, document reviews, and participant questionnaires. These data will be analyzed separately and then compared and contrasted to give an overall picture of the program findings. Brief, informal data summaries describing data collection/analysis methods and findings will be provided to project staff on a quarterly basis. A comprehensive final report which includes an executive summary, evaluation methodology used, summary of the project, presentation of formative and summative results, conclusions and implications, and recommendations for future research and sustainability will be completed at grant end (2021). The Hezel Associates team will also work with the PI to generate findings tailored to contribute to the body of research evidence relating to teacher preparation, with the goal of improving collective understanding of the factors that influence excellence in new STEM teachers.

Syracuse University’s NSF Research Traineeship (NRT) Evaluation (2015-2020)

Syracuse University (www.syr.edu) has been awarded a five-year, $3 million grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF). The National Science Foundation Research Traineeship (NRT) grant will prepare SyracuseUniversitymasters and doctoral students at Syracuse University with the technical and professional skills needed to excel in the field. The program, Education Model Program on Water-Energy Research (EMPOWER), will take an interdisciplinary approach, with schools across the University collaborating to create curriculum. Students will be trained in the most cutting edge practices related to communications, public policy, management, and law to help them communicate findings to a diverse group of individuals and stakeholders. Ultimately, the program will produce highly skilled science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) individuals who will play a critical role in the energy sector.

Hezel Associates will serve as the third-party evaluator for the grant, working collaboratively with Syracuse University to create a comprehensive mixed-methods evaluation to collect data from program activities. Hezel Associates will analyze the implementation of the grant and provide formative feedback to assess, monitor and improve program activities. Hezel Associates will also explore impact of the grant on the STEM community and identify any promising practices that have emerged during grant activities that could be shared with a broader audience.