Research Methods

Qualitative & Quantitative Studies

An integral part of government and private sector program management, Westat's process and outcome analysis measures effectiveness of programs and policies. Westat has designed and conducted hundreds of surveys, in-depth interviews, semi-structural observation, and focus groups. We collect data in program evaluations, refine questionnaires, and develop messages for public information campaigns. We use qualitative and quantitative methods singly or in combination to provide a comprehensive picture, depending on the needs of the particular study.

We combine our subject-area expertise with technical skills in research design, mathematical modeling, and statistical analysis. We perform the following

  • Develop outcome measures and appropriate baselines
  • Examine program processes in relation to outcomes
  • Develop models to isolate program effects from exogenous factors

For example, to conduct a qualitative analysis of personnel processes within an organization, Westat, through in-person and videoconferencing focus groups, assesses the efficiency of processes as well as the accessibility of personnel data to users.

Westat focus groups typically involve 8 to 10 participants, who are selected for their knowledge of the topics under investigation or their importance as a target group. Our experienced staff of moderators conducts focus groups in our in-house facility and throughout the United States.

Human Factors

Westat designs and conducts studies to improve the flow of participants through data collection protocols. We also assess the usability of software, web sites, and communication products. Westat's transportation researchers use a laboratory containing simulated vehicles and roadways to measure driver behavior and performance for various driving situations and vehicle characteristics.

Westat's main campus contains in-house cognitive research laboratories for conducting

  • In-depth one-on-one interviews
  • Focus groups
  • Cognitive testing of survey instruments
  • Usability studies of web sites and software

Read about our transportation human factors research