SRDC specializes in social experiments and demonstration projects to test innovative government policies and programs. The evaluation of these projects calls on a variety of methods used in formative and summative evaluations. Most projects include, as key components, an implementation evaluation, an impact analysis, and a cost-benefit analysis.
Policy areas of research include early child development, access to post-secondary education, adult learning and literacy, labour market information, employment insurance, community-based employment, welfare-to-work, population health, programs for persons with disabilities, and crime prevention.
SRDC also conducts in these areas formative and summative evaluation studies as well as performance measurement studies of programs already in operation.
Using cash-motivated subjects, experiments create real-world incentives and controlled settings to study participants’ behaviour and decisions. The results can be used to infer individual preferences or behavioural propensities. SRDC has applied this approach in several areas, including adult education, use of labour market information, and student financial aid.
This research can help identify program models that merit further testing and can serve to assess whether a program can be implemented. Areas covered include the effective use of labour market information, essential skills training, use of employment insurance, language acquisition for immigrants, labour market integration of persons with disabilities, access to post-secondary education, student financial aid, and family demographics.
SRDC offers services in design and management of large-scale surveys and assessment of results.
SRDC has carried out extensive literature reviews on policy and programs in several areas, such as parental leave policies, employment and income assistance for First Nations, employment insurance, high-school education and student financial assistance, and youth employment.
Examples of SRDC analyses include a research program on returns to adult education, in partnership with the Canadian Labour Market and Skills Researcher Network, research on the effectiveness of youth programs for the HRDC Ministerial Task Force on Youth, research on frequent use of employment insurance, design of a program for long-term welfare recipients for the Government of Quebec, and research on the composition of government-assisted refugees for Citizenship and Immigration Canada.
As a source of independent advice to policy-makers and practitioners, SRDC can assist where internal resources are insufficient, or bring a broader perspective to bear on a particular issue. This assistance takes many forms, including development of logic models, evaluation design, identification of options for new program development, and interpretation of research findings.
Organizing and facilitating workshops on particular policy issues or research topics are other types of technical services that SRDC provides.