Alpha test results for a Housing First eLearning strategy: The value of multiple qualitative methods for intervention design

Emily Q. Ahonen, Dennis P. Watson, Erin L. Adams, Alan McGuire

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

2 Scopus citations


Background: Detailed descriptions of implementation strategies are lacking, and there is a corresponding dearth of information regarding methods employed in implementation strategy development. This paper describes methods and findings related to the alpha testing of eLearning modules developed as part of the Housing First Technical Assistance and Training (HFTAT) program's development. Alpha testing is an approach for improving the quality of a product prior to beta (i.e., real world) testing with potential applications for intervention development. Methods: Ten participants in two cities tested the modules. We collected data through (1) a structured log where participants were asked to record their experiences as they worked through the modules; (2) a brief online questionnaire delivered at the end of each module; and (3) focus groups. Results: The alpha test provided useful data related to the acceptability and feasibility of eLearning as an implementation strategy, as well as identifying a number of technical issues and bugs. Each of the qualitative methods used provided unique and valuable information. In particular, logs were the most useful for identifying technical issues, and focus groups provided high quality data regarding how the intervention could best be used as an implementation strategy. Conclusions: Alpha testing was a valuable step in intervention development, providing us an understanding of issues that would have been more difficult to address at a later stage of the study. As a result, we were able to improve the modules prior to pilot testing of the entire HFTAT. Researchers wishing to alpha test interventions prior to piloting should balance the unique benefits of different data collection approaches with the need to minimize burdens for themselves and participants.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number46
JournalPilot and Feasibility Studies
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 20 2017


  • Alpha test
  • Community of practice
  • Digital badging
  • ELearning
  • Housing First
  • Implementation strategy
  • Intervention development
  • Narrative storytelling

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Alpha test results for a Housing First eLearning strategy: The value of multiple qualitative methods for intervention design'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

  • Cite this