About - Research Basis

About
Research Basis

OnlineParentingPrograms.com®
Offers Evidence-Based Classes

In recent years there has been a steep increase in the demand for evidence-based programs. It is important to understand what this criterion includes. The concept of Evidence-Based Practice and Programs (EBP) grew out of the medical field where the concern was to ensure that all drugs and clinical methods had been thoroughly tried and tested before they were used with the general public. The demand for EBP in family life education and social work has grown significantly in recent years, but numerous authors have argued that there are serious limitations in its usefulness and applicability to social services and even within medicine.

There are several levels of classification of evidence-based programs.

  • Replicated experimental studies. This evaluation evidence is the strongest but most expensive and least generalizable to other classes. Such studies are the strongest indicators that results can be credited to the classes they evaluated. Classes must be conducted exactly as they were evaluated to claim the same credibility. There is a limited number of these studies.
  • Experimental, randomly assigned studies, not yet replicated. These are strong studies but the results have been found in only one or a few studies. Again, programs must be conducted exactly as they were evaluated to claim the same credibility. There are more of these studies than the first group, but they are also not common.
  • Quasi-experimental studies. That means that the class has been evaluated, but cannot claim definitively that the results are due to participation in the class. Many of these studies compare participant measures before and after the class. They also might make comparisons with other classes. There is more flexibility with adapting these classes. This level is quite common.
  • Evidence-Informed programs. At this most common level, the class is based on literature that shows that the content and methods of the class represent best practices and are likely to meet the needs of the participants and achieve the class goals and objectives. Although this level includes non-experimental evaluations and does not reach the rigorous standards of the other levels, it still qualifies as a level of the evidence-based continuum and is a valuable characteristic.

Our co-parenting class meet the criteria of Evidence-Informed programs and have collected some preliminary data for quasi-experimental studies. Bill Eddy’s New Ways for Families programs, being offered by OnlineParentingPrograms.com® to families at risk of high levels of conflict during the separation and divorce process, have been evaluated using quasi-experimental designs with the face-to-face version of the class and have shown to be effective both in bringing about positive changes in families and being highly cost-effective. Evaluations of the online version of this program will follow.

Research Support for Divorce Education

There is a growing body of research on the process and outcomes of programs for divorcing and separating parents. Although there is a need for more study, existing research, including that by Bill Eddy, has found that divorce education can result in:

  • lower amounts of conflict between parents,
  • less likelihood of returning to court,
  • more positive family interactions,
  • improved mental health and
  • better adjustment.

These studies comprise much of the evidence consulted by OnlineParentingPrograms.com® to create programs.

Research Support for Online Programs

Studies have compared outcomes for participants who have attended in-person programs vs. online. At least one study compared outcomes of an in-person divorceeducation to those achieved by a similar program offered online. The results have shown that program outcomes for college students and for divorcing parents are similar or slightly better for those attending online compared with those taking the class in-person. Other authors have argued that the most important criterion is the preference of the participant for online or in-person.

In addition, a recent review of six online divorce-education programs identified the state of online divorce education programs and listed several recommendations for improvement.

  • First, they found that, although most programs were based on current research, they did not always provide citations and did not identify theoretical frameworks.
  • They felt that the curricula were missing some important topics.
  • They encouraged programs to increase the attention paid to parents in special circumstances, such as domestic violence, substance abuse, and mental illness.
  • Another instruction-related recommendation was to expand the range of teaching models. Although many of the online programs have simply converted the content of their face-to-face versions, it is important to transform the instructional strategies to take advantage of the unique potential of the webbased format.

They conclude by saying that “more research is needed to evaluate the quality and effectiveness of online divorce education programs.” Some evaluation results are available for face-to-face programs (see earlier sections of this report), but almost nothing was available for the online programs when this article was written.

The state of the field of online divorce education is that it is in its infancy but is looking very positive.


Sources

Epstein, I. (2011). Reconciling evidence-based practice, evidence-informed practiced, and practice-based research: The role of clinical data-mining. Social Work: 56(3), 284-288.

Nevo, I., & Slonim-Nevo, V. (2011). The myth of evidence-based practice: Towards evidence-informed practice. British Journal of Social Work, doe: 10.1093/bjsw/bcq149.

Porter, S., & O’Halloran, P. (2009). The postmodernist war on evidence-based practice.International Journal of Nursing Studies, 49(5), 740-748.New

Rockwell, K., & Bennett, C. (2004). Targeting outcomes of programs: A hierarchy for targeting outcomes and evaluating their achievement. University of NebraskaLincoln.

Brandon, D. J. (2006). Can four hours make a difference? Evaluation of a parent education program for divorcing parents. Journal of Divorce & Remarriage, 45(1), 171-185.

Criddle, M. N., Allgood, S. M., & Piercy, K. W. (2003). The relationship between mandatory divorce education and level of post-divorce parental conflict. Journal of Divorce and Remarriage, 39, 99-111.

Zimmerman, D. K., Brown, J. H., & Portes, P. R. (2004). Assessing custodial mother adjustment to divorce: The role of divorce education and family functioning. Journal of Divorce and Remarriage, 41, 1-24.

Burkhardt, J. M., Kinnie, J., & Cournoyer, C. M. (2008). Information literacy successes compared: Online vs. face to face. Journal of Library Administration, 48,(3-4), 379-389.

Root, M. D. (2011, October). Online vs. face time: Which reigns supreme? CPAPracticeAdvisor.com, 21, 3.

Schramm, D. G., & McCaulley, G. (2012). Divorce education for parents: A comparison of online and inperson methods. Journal of Divorce and Remarriage, 53, 602-617. DOI: 10.1080/10502556.2012.721301.

Bowers, J. R., Mitchell, E. T., Hardesty, J. L., & Hughes, R., Jr. (2011). A review of online divorce education programs. Family Court Review, 49, 776-787.

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