HyeonJin Yoon, CYFS research assistant professor, led a March 13 presentation in the Spring 2020 Methodology Applications Series at the Nebraska Union. Her presentation, “Regression Discontinuity Designs in Social Science Research: Causal Inference of Cutoff-Based Programs,” is now available on video.
Yoon’s presentation provides an introduction to the practical application of regression discontinuity designs in evaluating non-random, cutoff-based programs and policies in social science research. The emphasis is on foundational RDD concepts, RDD modeling assumptions, correctly building RDD statistical models and conducting and interpreting analyses (i.e., parametric, nonparametric, graphical analyses). Empirical examples are provided to illustrate the application of the method.
She notes that although the randomized control trial (RCT) provides the most straightforward route to causal inference, practical and ethical concerns can make its implementation in evaluation contexts challenging. For example, a treatment or service is offered only to those most in need, based on whether their value for a program measure (e.g., income level or reading score) falls above or below a certain threshold or cut-point. Cutoff-based assignment yields a regression discontinuity design (RDD) that facilitates unbiased causal inference at the cutoff as the process of assignment to treatment conditions is completely known and can be accounted for in the impact model.
The Methodology Applications Series is sponsored by CYFS’ MAP Academy. The final presentation of the spring semester is tentatively scheduled for Friday, May 1, led by Michael Hebert, associate professor of special education and communication disorders, who will discuss meta-analysis. The presentation will be via Zoom video conference.