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Hanna Keller

EXPL291

Prof. Green, Prof. Haarman

25 April 2019

Final Reflection

Throughout the completion of this community-based research (CBR)

project, I have learned a significant amount about the overall process of

community-based research, and I have gained knowledge in several

CBR-related areas: the perspectives one needs to take into consideration

when forming research questions and methods, the different approaches

researchers can take when collecting data, the communication and

transparency that must occur between researcher(s) and community

partners, and the different ways in which the collected data can be

presented and consolidated. At the beginning of the semester I was, quite

frankly, a bit intimidated by the research proposal set before our team. I

believed that the initial question was vague and I was unsure of how to

begin the process of research. However, as our plan came together

throughout the semester, I arrived at a much clearer understanding of how

community-based research operated and what exactly CBR is. I believe this

transformation in my comprehension stemmed from the fact that the

research project was undertaken in a format and environment in which

learning was encouraged on all sides. I was being taught to perform


research and to collect data, but the research was performed in equal

amounts by both students and instructors. Although this project was

structured in a university class setting, it was a collaborative effort and

allowed me to take away an immense amount of experiential knowledge

while I contributed to the community in which I live.

Stoecker refers to his model of research not as CBR, but PAR, or

“participatory action research,” which “contains the two main ingredients of

the practice: participation and action” (Stoecker 27). I believe our

community-based research project quite accurately modeled Stoecker’s view

on research. It is important to note that our research process paralleled

many of Stoecker’s main points about participatory action research, or CBR.

Stoecker’s first point regarding CBR is that CBR-related approaches “are

designed to be useful” (Stoecker 27). In other words, community-based

research projects like ours have much more of an impact behind them than

research projects that are solely based around providing information and

data. Our work with Chicago Friends School will have real-world implications

regarding the increase of diverse enrollment at the school, and it enables the

research project to be founded upon a more significant purpose. Stoecker

also mentions another property of CBR, which includes a “standard for

determining which research methods to use,” or an intent to determine

“what methods will create research that will actually be used” (Stoecker 28).

Prior to engaging in our research, we developed three main research


methods that would produce the optimal results for improving the diversity

of Chicago Friends School: an internal audit, an external audit, and an

asset-mapping portion of the research project. The internal audit centered

around gauging sentiment about the project’s topic from within the school,

and involved interviewing parents, teachers, and board members for data

collection. The external audit dealt with an investigation into alternative

organizations that prioritize diversity, in order to propose the best solutions

for Chicago Friends School’s diversification. The asset-mapping portion of

the project sought out resources in the community - an assortment of

organizations and institutions in Edgewater, Rogers Park, and Uptown - that

would aid Chicago Friends School’s goal of a more diverse enrollment. The

next idea that Stoecker emphasizes regarding the structure of

community-based research is its collaborative nature: communication is

often a prevalent feature of CBR projects, as the most effective way “to find

out what kind of research methods will fit the community and produce the

most useful outcomes is to ask” (Stoecker 29). Communication and

collaboration were most definitely large tenets of our research project,

between the researchers’ teamwork during the data collection process, the

various e-mails sent, and meetings that took place with our community

partner and the head of Chicago Friends School. Kerry Strand also addresses

the benefits of community-based research in her article, which were most

certainly evident during our partnership with Chicago Friends School. For
instance, Strand states that “CBR partnerships...provide community groups

with a mechanism to leverage and maximize their own resources” (Strand

21). During our research project, we not only provided a comprehensive list

of community resources for Chicago Friends School to reach out to, but also

suggested a variety of methods to optimize their potential as an institution

aspiring to be more diverse and inclusive.

In terms of the Social Change Model of Leadership, I most definitely

resonate with the statement that “leadership is viewed as a process rather

than a position” (“Summary” 1). Throughout this research project, I have

seen significant development in myself as a leader, particularly when it came

to the division of team leaders for each portion of the project. I was

assigned as a co-leader on the asset-mapping team, and I had the unique

opportunity and responsibility to research community resources for Chicago

Friends School. By successfully collaborating with my fellow team members,

communicating on a regular basis with our community partner, and

presenting the final results of our research, I developed several different skill

sets that I believe will immensely aid my professional growth after my

college career is over. Not only do I possess the ability to now perform

community-based research, I also have gained experience in professional

and formal correspondence with an organizational partner, working with

others, leading a team, and giving public presentations.


I have definitely had a “shift in consciousness” regarding what it

means to do service, and how service-learning can be applied to research.

Prior to this course, I did not believe that service and research could be

reconciled, but now I know that community-based research (such as our

project and partnership with Chicago Friends School) can be defined as

service as it can directly impact and benefit the community in which it takes

place. This impact is certainly true for our project; through our team’s

research, we have given Chicago Friends School the resources and

recommendations they needed to more successfully diversify their student

body and more effectively reach out to the surrounding community. I have

also learned not to be intimidated by a new experience such as this project,

as I had never engaged in community-based research before this class.

However, my involvement in this project taught me that the sufficient

amount of effort and planning will yield successful results, no matter the

endeavor.

My experience in this course is also aligned with Loyola University

Chicago’s Jesuit values in a variety of ways - for instance, our

community-based research project sought to directly serve the community

by providing critical information regarding the processes of increasing

diverse enrollment and maximizing community outreach at Chicago Friends

School. Eventually, these research project results will lead to social change,

as well, as diversity is an ever-increasing priority for organizations and


institutions nationwide. Having had an opportunity to aid one such institution

in their commitment to social responsibility was a life-changing and unique

university experience that will not only help me further my professional

development, but will also inspire me to engage on a more regular basis

with the community in which I live.


References

Stoecker, Randy. ​Research Methods for Community Change: a Project-Based

Approach.​ Sage Publications, 2013.

Strand, Kerry. ​Community-Based Research and Higher Education: Principles

and Practices​. Jossey-Bass, 2003.

“Summary Excerpted From: The Social Change Model of Leadership

Development Guidebook Version III.” ​A Social Change Model of

Leadership Development: Guidebook, Version III​. 2001.