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Community Impact Study Methodology

The Center for Community Initiatives (CCI), in conjunction with UNF Academic Affairs, reviewed several community engagement studies conducted by other universities in order to decide upon indicators to measure the extent to which the University is participating in community outreach. In particular, the Washington University in St. Louis study, “Washington University’s Impact on the St. Louis Region,” provided the most suitable model. The research team selected six categories to organize possible community involvement activities. Within each category, several more detailed categories, or indicators, were selected to further organize activities and provide the ruler by which to measure UNF’s community involvement. The categories and indicators are described in more detail later in the report.

Once the indicators were chosen, research staff created a detailed indicator spreadsheet. Creating a living document allowed the research team to add activities and categories unique to the University, and see how these variables fit the model of community engagement. The first step in data collection was to perform a content analysis of the UNF website including college and department pages, publications such as press releases, In the News, and Inside UNF. For this effort, primary interest was concentrated on activities undertaken during the 2006-2007 academic year (and summer), as well as Fall 2007. As information relevant to community engagement was uncovered, the data was entered into the appropriate indicator and category on the spreadsheet. Once this information was collected, meetings were established with College Deans, or in some cases Associate Deans, and Directors of the Library, Continuing Education, and Alumni Affairs. The primary objective of these meetings was to explain the purpose of the project, make contact for future phases, and update any questions related to previously collected data. In most cases, the Dean followed up with more information from his or her department on community engagement activities.

The second phase of the project included an extensive community engagement web survey that was sent to all faculty at the University of North Florida in the Spring of 2008. Faculty were asked to supply details regarding their community engagement activities for 2007. They were specifically asked questions regarding the following categories:courses taught with a service-learning component

  • Courses taught with an internship component
  • Appointments served on boards of non-profit organizations, businesses, or schools (not including UNF)
  • Appointments served on boards of professional organizations
  • Volunteer efforts unrelated to courses
  • Other resources provided (e.g., pro bono consultation, presentations, sponsored field trips)
  • Service awards received

The survey was sent to 623 faculty, and 344 replied for a 55 percent response rate. Faculty were sent three follow-up messages to achieve the response rate. After the survey ran for three weeks, the information was compiled and separated into spreadsheets. The data were then cleaned and added to the indicator spreadsheet collected during phase one.