September 2019 Research Roundup

Stack of old books sitting on stairs.

Today is an exciting day, as it marks Collaboratory’s very first Research Roundup – a quarterly digest that shares a recap of current research and thinking in the field of higher education community engagement as it relates to partnership development, tracking, assessment, evaluation, research, and practice. We’ve picked several recent resources to feature here that interested us and our daily work, and that we think also have broader sector relevance. 

This quarter’s resources loosely tie together around the theme of individuals who are tasked with the work of assessment – how to think about your role and your work, how to communicate across differences, and how to gather support.

Community Engagement Professionals as Inquiring Practitioners for Organizational Learning

Just published by Anne Weiss and Kristin Norris (Collaboratory Administrator, IU System) in the March 2019 Journal of Higher Education, Outreach, and Engagement, this article provides a great introduction to the distinction among broader inquiry terms such as tracking/monitoring, assessment, evaluation, and research, and explores the tensions of why we conduct inquiry — for internal improvement or for external recognition. It then encourages community engagement professionals to leverage such inquiry across all aspects of their work.    Access the article.

Promoting Program Evaluation Fidelity when Data Collectors Lack Research Design and Implementation Expertise

Drawing from the field of extension, collaborators from Washington State University describe tensions experienced when extension personnel collaborate with non-extension researchers (e.g., faculty at their institution) to help evaluate and report program impacts. They then provide recommendations for conducting program evaluations when some are unfamiliar with research designs and practices. These recommendations could also be applied through the lens of the community engagement practitioner, working with faculty at their institution to demonstrate outcomes.   Access the article.

The Alienation of Impact Reporting

Just published in the Stanford Social Innovation Review, Julia Morley, an accounting professor at the London School of Economics, calls out the tension between “an organization’s stated mission and the business-like social impact reporting it’s now doing”. This description-value dissonance has wide application to other sectors and fields of study, such as that of community engagement tracking and reporting.   Access the article.

The Assessment Profession in Higher Education: A Snapshot of Perceptions, Roles, and Activities

This brief Assessment Update introduces improvement, accountability, and implementation as the primary concerns of assessment professionals, and distinguishes five common roles with which assessment professionals identify: assessment/method expert, narrator/translator, facilitator/guide and political navigator, change agent, and project manager. Consider sharing the professional development recommendations with institutional leadership to help generate understanding and buy-in around why assessment is an important activity!   Access the article.

Share your Resources!

The articles provided above don’t even begin to scratch the surface of the newest information out there to provide insights on community-university partnerships. If we did not include a resource you think we should know about and share, contact us at [email protected]

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