Rob Olsen is an economist who specializes in rigorous impact evaluations of social programs, especially randomized trials of educational programs. He has played leadership roles on impact evaluations of the Upward Bound Program, college advising for high school students, and smart phone apps to help community college students persist in school. He has served as a senior technical advisor on impact evaluations across a wide range of substantive areas, including employment and training, housing assistance, food and nutrition, and teen pregnancy prevention. Prior to joining GWIPP, Dr. Olsen held research positions at Westat, Abt Associates, the Urban Institute, and Mathematica.
Over the past 12 years, his research has focused on methods for improving the external validity or generalizability of findings from randomized trials. Currently, Dr. Olsen is conducting research on sampling methods for improved generalizability in evaluations of education programs and on statistical analysis methods for improved generalizability in evaluations of job training programs. His research on generalizability has culminated in an evaluator’s guide to generalizability (joint with Dr. Elizabeth Tipton), which was published by the Institute of Education Sciences (IES). In addition, he consults on rigorous impact evaluations, including evaluations of math technology interventions and English Learner reclassification for IES, to help ensure that their findings generalize to populations of policy interest.