Shawn Flower is the Principal Researcher and sole proprietor at Choice Research Associates. Her primary mission is to conduct criminal justice research with a focus on program evaluation and female offenders including recidivism research, needs assessment, and re-entry into the community. She has been using Remark Office OMR since the Fall of 2002 when she began working as a graduate student at the University of Maryland, College Park. After she completed her education, she purchased a copy of Remark for use with her clients in her consulting company.
She uses Remark Office OMR for pen and pencil self-report surveys and to create forms to monitor day to day program activities (e.g., intake forms, adherence to curriculum, client progress reports). One of her most interesting and largest surveys was a 16 page survey for 200 men detained in jail. The men completed a survey that contained 182 questions on broad areas including criminal history, employment, education, relationships, leisure time, neighborhood safety, life skills, health including substance use history and interest in treatment. Shawn also used Remark Office OMR for a series of inter-related forms for an evaluation of Community Mediation Maryland (CMM) Re-Entry Program. CMM is a state-wide program that offers mediation services to those imprisoned in 10 correctional facilities around the state of Maryland. It is a rare opportunity for those returning to the community to have important and necessary conversations with those they care about and to plan for their return. When all information from all of the forms from different stages of the program is combined, the merged data captures both the administrative process and information required for an assessment of the program’s effectiveness. One of the challenges of evaluating this program is that CMM’s Executive Director assists independent local mediation centers in providing these services – but in the past, each center used their own forms and processes. Working collaboratively with CMM, Shawn was able to unify the process for this program by using the forms with Remark. This ensures the integrity of data captured both between the centers and from year to year, when staff turnover occurs given the program utilizes one-year contracted volunteers in this work.
When asked about her favorite features of Remark Office OMR, Shawn says, “the flexibility of the software – it is incredibly powerful.” As a researcher with such critical projects, she also appreciates the ability to translate the data directly into SPSS for analysis. Retaining the value and variable labels eliminates a lot of coding of syntax and/or getting the data ready for the analysis work. As Shawn says, “just set it up when you do the form – and presto! There you are – ready to crunch numbers.” She says it “sounds geeky” but for us, it’s music to our ears. We thank Shawn for her continued support of the Remark software through her samples and suggestions.