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Bringing Theory to Practice Evaluation: What do we know after 2 years? Ashley Finley Dickinson College.

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Presentation on theme: "Bringing Theory to Practice Evaluation: What do we know after 2 years? Ashley Finley Dickinson College."— Presentation transcript:

1 Bringing Theory to Practice Evaluation: What do we know after 2 years? Ashley Finley Dickinson College

2 Major Findings & Commonalities Across 7 Project Campuses Where have we been? How far have we come? Overview of thematic findings after Year 1 How have those changed after Year 2? Engaged Learning Civic Development Mental Health & Well-Being

3 Year 1: 4 Major Thematic Findings We Are Not Wasting Our Time Programs are helpful and well-liked Reality Check Students gain realistic perspective on what it means to be civically engaged – time commitment, lose romantic notions of involvement Questions = More Questions Complexities of variables, measurement, and campus environments Time is Key Untangling relationships Stabilizing variation in engagement programs Increasing participation across campus constituencies

4 What we knew then & what we know now… 1) Why do these programs work? We are not wasting our time Reality Check 2) Putting Practice into Place Questions = More Questions

5 3) Time is still key…but at least it has been kind Time is key

6 Theme 1: Why do these programs work? Institutional Perspective: Growth across constituencies on project campuses Faculty Administrators – at all levels Community Partners Growth = sustainability & the potential for change Student Perspective Enriches learning exp. Creates (+) interax with faculty Builds social networks Faculty Perspective Students are better learners/do better work Meaningful interax with students Opportunity for collaboration

7 What do we know about engaged learning & civic engagement? Engaged learning = (+) Process of Self- Discovery Most enhanced by living-learning & Civic Eng. Self-reflection upon individual behaviors & others behaviors Helps challenge stereotypes and/or re-enforces attitudes toward social justice BUT Reflection = uncomfortable reality

8 What do we know about engaged learning, civic engagement & well-being Alcohol Use Living-learning &/or civic eng. = recurring link with lower alcohol use Self-reflection linked with modification of behaviors assoc. with alcohol use Consideration of care- taking behaviors What do students say about this connection? Mental Health Mixed results for depression, self-esteem, optimism BUT stress recurring issue Esp. civic eng. programs How big of a problem is a little stress? Tipping point Social networks promote better mental health Well-being is individual AND social

9 Theme 2: Putting Practice into Place Similar obstacles for program implementation reported across campuses Variation across courses/Faculty Strain on resources Time Administration Student Recruitment/getting the word out Response rates Sustainable funding Though less reporting of logistical issues

10 Theme 3: Time has been kind… Still learning complexities & shortcomings but… Selection bias Do students select in and why? Who else selects in? Intensive site institutions = Intended to directly assess selection issues Evaluation Is an additive approach enough? Development of a BTtoP toolkit instrument Inclusive assessment of multiple dimensions of engaged learning, well- being & substance use, and civic engagement

11 What is next for BTtoP evaluation? Collection of data from 4 demonstration sites and 2 intensive sites through 2009 Further assessment of complexities with emphasis on identifying outcomes Continued discussion of best practices

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