Fulfilling a key part of the mission at the American Institutes for Research® (AIR), our staff work with international, national, state, and local agencies providing services that build capacity, facilitate policy change, enhance workforce competencies, foster behavior change, and transform overall systems to achieve outcomes for the people they serve. Among the methods we use are:
- Systems Change
- Research-Informed Communication Strategies
- Knowledge Translation, Dissemination, and Utilization
- Pay for Success
Across these methods, AIR uses several cross-cutting techniques—strategies that are essential to how AIR facilitates change and achieves outcomes:
- Training, Technical Assistance, and Coaching. These strategies are needed continuously over time to reinforce practice change. AIR develops and delivers activities that enable practitioners and other partners in education, health, and the workforce to gain the knowledge, motivation, and skills needed to improve outcomes for those they serve. Activities range from lecture and didactic learning to peer-to-peer learning and coaching, taking place either online or in person, informed by a strong evidence base, including adult learning theory.
- Resource and Tool Development. AIR experts create print- and web-based materials to share knowledge about content and techniques; conduct assessments and evaluation; and illustrate findings and outcomes to support the change process. Examples include readiness and assessment instruments, surveys, systematic literature reviews, training manuals, checklists, websites, dashboards, and facilitation guides to implement evidence-based programs.
- Cultural and Linguistic Competence (CLC). Throughout AIR’s technical assistance work, our staff demonstrate mastery of cultural and linguistic competence—the beliefs, behaviors, knowledge, skills, and systems through which individuals and organizations demonstrate empathy and understanding of, and respect for, diverse populations and cultures. CLC involves honoring the values, historical context, expectations, language, sexual orientation, and experiences of different groups.
- Monitoring and Evaluation. Monitoring is the collection and analysis of information about an ongoing, active project or program to capture data, for example, on the number of people reached; how, and with what frequency, intensity, duration; and customer satisfaction. Evaluation is the periodic, retrospective assessment of an organization, project, or program that might be conducted internally or by external independent evaluators to determine impact and identify outcomes. AIR uses these techniques throughout all our technical assistance work to learn about customer satisfaction and ensure optimal outcomes.
- Continuous Quality Improvement. From the beginning and throughout any project, AIR staff strive to achieve the highest quality in the products and services we provide and to learn, through various forms of data collection at regular intervals, about improvements and corrections that are needed. Only in this way can the strategies and other interventions be optimized to achieve the original outcomes. We bring data to the table with clients and our partners in the field to co-interpret and make necessary improvements throughout the project lifecycle.