Measuring Self-Regulation Skills in Evaluations of Employment Programs for Low-Income Populations: Challenges and Recommendations

OPRE Report #2018-83
Publisher: Washington, DC: Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation, Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Sep 30, 2018
Tim Kautz and Quinn Moore

Four challenges arise when measuring self-regulation skills in evaluations of employment programs for low-income populations:

  • Measures of self-regulation skills can reflect aspects of a person’s situation (for example, his or her background or financial resources) in addition to his or her skills.
  • Most existing measures were developed for purposes other than program evaluation, such as describing characteristics of populations generally or for diagnosing people with severe problems.
  • Most existing measures were not designed for use with low-income populations.
  • Some measures take a long time to administer or require special technology.

This report discusses the challenges in measuring self-regulation skills and provides guidance on selecting measures to use in evaluations of employment programs for low-income populations. It complements a brief entitled “New Perspectives on Practice: A Guide to Measuring Self-Regulation and Goal-Related Outcomes in Employment Programs,” by Cavadel et al. (2018) that focuses on providing guidance to practitioners by encouraging them to consider self-regulation outcomes and by introducing measures of goal-related and self-regulation skills. This report focuses on providing guidance to researchers on how to measure self-regulation skills in evaluation settings, highlighting ways to address unique challenges that arise in this application. This report was written by Mathematica Policy Research and funded by the Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation (OPRE) of the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) as part of the Evaluation of Employment Coaching for TANF and Related Populations.