Publications & Resources

A Multi-Method and Multi-Source Approach for Studying Fidelity of Implementation

Feb 2006

Maria Araceli Ruiz-Primo

Even the best program in education will fail to have the intended impact if its essential elements are not implemented properly. Degree of implementation is, then, critical to draw valid conclusions on program outcomes (e.g., Scheirer & Rezmovic, 1983). Especially important is the information on the fidelity with which a program is implemented. Fidelity of Implementation (FOI) has been defined as the determination of how close the program is implemented according to its original design or as intended (e.g., Dobson & Shaw, 1988; Dusenbury, Brannigan, Falco, & Hanse, 2003; Witt & Elliot, 1985). Unfortunately, empirical evidence on the effect of FOI on program success is limited. Many evaluation studies do not collect data on FOI and even fewer examine its impact on program outcomes (Dane & Schenider, 1998; Dusenbury et al., 2003; Lillehoj, Griffin, & Spoth, 2004). Furthermore, there is no set of methods and procedures that is universally known and used as standard procedure in the study of FOI. Whereas the characteristics of each program determine what has to be measured during implementation, there are some commonalities across types of programs and, therefore, some general strategies that can be developed.

This paper addresses FOI at three levels: general, conceptual, and applied. The first section provides a short review of literature on the main issues of FOI. The second section proposes a conceptual approach for studying FOI in the context of inquiry-based science curricula. The third section describes a series of studies, currently in progress, in which this conceptual approach is being used.

Ruiz-Primo, M. A. (2006). A multi-method and multi-source approach for studying fidelity of implementation (CSE Report 677). Los Angeles: University of California, Los Angeles, National Center for Research on Evaluation, Standards, and Student Testing (CRESST).