Experimental ethnographies of early intervention: a new ‘gold standard’?

Rodolfo Maggio


Early intervention in child development has become co-existent with program evaluation by means of randomized controlled trials (RCTs). Although the polarized debate between detractors and promoters of quantitative methods is fading as the idea of interdisciplinarity gains programmatic traction, RCTs are still considered the “gold standard.” The application of mixed methods remains limited in evaluation of program effectiveness. In this article I propose three possible forms of integration between ethnography and RCT in the field of early intervention in child development. I argue that such an integration is beneficial for evaluation research and, thus, for the delivery of better early intervention services.


early intervention, child development, ethnography, evaluation research, mixed methods, randomized controlled trial, interdisciplinarity

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