The Schaefer Center's principal services include:
Opinion research is a major component of the center’s work. Center staff members began with paper-and-pencil surveys in 1989. At the beginning of the AIDS epidemic, the Schaefer Center assisted the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene in understanding Marylanders’ knowledge of and perceptions about the disease. Since then, the center has conducted hundreds of surveys for Maryland agencies and nonprofit organizations with a variety of populations including business leaders, welfare recipients, program beneficiaries and the general public.
The facilities within the center now include a 20-station, state-of-the-art service Computer-Aided Telephone Interviewing (CATI) lab. The center’s survey research capacity is enhanced by its ability to conduct in-person interviews, Web-based surveys and scannable paper surveys.
A signature product of the Schaefer Center is the annual Maryland Policy Choices survey, which polls 800 Marylanders about their opinions regarding the state of the state and current policy issues. The survey findings are disseminated to the media and to elected officials throughout Maryland, including members of the Maryland General Assembly, the governor’s office and county executives. Through this survey, elected officials get an unbiased look at the pulse of the state.
During the mid 1990’s, the center added professional focus group moderation to its opinion research services. Center researchers use focus groups to collect qualitative data for evaluation studies and needs assessments and to enhance survey design and interpretation. With a cadre of professionally trained focus group moderators who are experts in program evaluation and policy analysis, the center is well equipped to combine quantitative and qualitative data collection techniques to produce reliable research reports that enable better decision-making.
The Schaefer Center for Public Policy at the University of Baltimore conducts surveys for government, non-profit, and private agencies on a broad array of topics including health issues, social welfare issues, transportation planning, and economic trends. Surveys can be used to: measure customer satisfaction, collect performance measurement data, evaluate and track public opinion, measure public support or opposition to policy issues, examine public perceptions of an organization's effectiveness, evaluate the effects of public policies, assess organizational and community needs, evaluate opinions, attitudes, or characteristics of specific populations.
The facilities within the center include a 20-station, state-of-the-art service Computer-Aided Telephone Interviewing (CATI) lab. The center's survey research capacity is enhanced by its ability to conduct in-person interviews, Web based surveys and scannable paper surveys.
A signature product of the Schaefer Center is the annual Maryland Policy Choices survey, which polls 800 Marylanders about their opinions regarding the state of the state and current policy issues. The survey findings are disseminated to the media and to elected officials throughout Maryland, including members of the Maryland General Assembly, the governor's office and county executives. Through this survey, elected officials get an unbiased look at the pulse of the state.
Is the program working as intended? What is its impact on participants? Are tax dollars being directed to their best and highest use? These are the types of questions often raised by legislators, funders and program managers when they are deciding how to allocate scare resources. Through rigorous program evaluation, researchers at the Schaefer Center provide the analysis leaders need to make informed decisions.
Through the combined resources of its evaluation unit and opinion research unit, the Schaefer Center is uniquely qualified to conduct thorough, cost-efficient and rigorous program evaluations. Its team includes experts in impact, process and cost analysis who employ a variety of data collection and analysis techniques to answer tough evaluation questions. While staff members are well versed in evaluation research, subject matter experts are occasionally needed to complete the research team. In these instances, the center is able to draw upon the collective expertise of the University of Baltimore community.
Over the years, Schaefer Center researchers have conducted numerous evaluations of public and nonprofit programs in the areas of welfare, safety net programs, education, health care and criminal justice, to name a few. The center has also been called upon by the Maryland General Assembly to provide unbiased research into significant policy issues, including physician self-referral and health care provider credentialing practices.
In 1997, the state of Maryland introduced Managing for Results, an ambitious plan to implement strategic planning throughout all state agencies. The Department of Budget and Management chose the Schaefer Center as its implementation partner. Working with the governor’s Interagency Steering Committee for Managing for Results, center staff and faculty developed a comprehensive training program targeting state managers. The program included courses in strategic planning, data collection, auditing data quality, survey research and data analysis. To date, more than 4,600 state managers have been trained in Managing for Results. The center also trained budget analysts from the Department of Budget and Management, legislative analysts from the Office of Legislative Services and auditors from the Office of Legislative Audits.
The Schaefer Center Staff can work with your agency to:
- develop a new MFR plan
- revise and update your existing MFR plan
- develop MFR Plans to link units and sub-units to the Agency and Program MFR submissions
- develop systems to ensure integration and monitoring of your agency’s MFR plans.
The Schaefer Center delivers programs that encourage civic involvement. Highlights include the two-week Taft Seminar for Teachers. This nonpartisan program combined academic presentations and interactive sessions with those directly involved in government. Teachers from across Maryland were given the opportunity to learn the inner workings of government from elected officials, nonprofit lobbyists, historians, government executives and policy analysts.
The center conducted a survey assessing the feasibility and financial viability of establishing a special benefits district in the midtown section of Baltimore City. Based upon the findings of the study, a core group of Mount Vernon Belvedere Improvement Association members decided to pursue the establishment of such a district. The Schaefer Center assisted the Baltimore City Board of Elections in administering the special election that established the Midtown Special Benefits District.
The Schaefer Center and the University of Baltimore’s Center for Citizenship and Applied Politics were selected by the U.S. Election Assistance Commission to be one of only 15 sites nationwide to help implement the Help America Vote College Program The Baltimore City election director reported that as a result of the Help America Vote College Program at UB, “for the first time in 20 years, the precincts in the city were fully staffed.” The program’s pre-election phases were followed by extensive post-election day research including a mail survey, interviews with election directors and student participants and two focus groups. The center anticipates ongoing work in this area through the training of election judges and the continued involvement of college students—as both election judges and interns who work with county, city and state election directors.
Focus Group Moderation
The Schaefer Center has a pool of professionally trained focus group moderators who have a broad base of research and moderation experience. Our moderators have conducted focus groups on a wide array of topics including: transportation planning, welfare policy, child and family policy, regionalism, economic development and environmental issues.
Focus groups can be used for:
- stakeholder analysis
- needs assessment
- implementation analysis
- identification of process improvement
- understanding customer attitudes
- understanding employee attitudes
- survey design
Our focus group services include:
- research design
- moderator guide development
- participant recruitment
- data analysis
- report preparation
- presentation of findings
Public sector management is more complex today than ever. Through the Schaefer Center, leaders from government and nonprofit organizations can access the expertise they need to solve complex problems. Center researchers and staff assist with a variety of management challenges including workforce planning, workload analysis, assessment of customer needs and strategic plan implementation.