What is the goal of the study?
The goal of this project is to quantify student learning outcomes from community-based research. We also seek to understand the influence of various practices and academic factors on what students learn from their CBR experiences. Analysis of the data will result in six scores—a Total Outcome Score and separate scores for perceptions of CBR outcomes related to Professional Skills, Civic Engagement, Educational Experience, Academic Skills and Personal Growth.
Why should I or my institution have our students participate?
The scores that result from the data analysis (Total Outcome Score and separate scores for perceptions of CBR outcomes related to Professional Skills, Civic Engagement, Educational Experience, Academic Skills and Personal Growth) will be returned to institutions at their request. When the results of the study are reported, no information that could be used to infer a student’s identity will be included. We will periodically offer survey national norms, which institutions could use to compare themselves against.
How can I have our students participate? What if they did a CBR project last year but not this one?
1) You invite your students to participate by sending them an email with a link to the survey. Any student who has done a CBR project in the past two years can take the survey. It is cumulative, asking students to reflect on all of their CBR experiences.
2) Let us know if you’ll be inviting your students to participate so we can track your results.
Here is some sample text for invitations:
Thank you for your participation in a community-based research (CBR) project. I am writing to invite you to take a short survey to help us understand the impact of CBR on students. (Name of College or University) is participating in a national project, led by Princeton University and partially funded by Learn and Serve America, to measure the outcomes of community-based research, and we would like to hear about your experience. Here is a link to the survey:
It should take about 5-7 minutes to complete and includes space for you to comment. We appreciate your honest responses to the questions in the survey. This research has been approved by Princeton University’s Institutional Review Board for Human Subjects.
All responses are completely confidential. Your participation or not will have no effect on your grades or future support as we have no way of tracking your participation.
Please let me know if you have any questions. Thanks for your help!
Name of CBR faculty member or administrator
Name of College or University
When would I receive the scores? How would I use them?
We will analyze the data at the end of each summer and would return the scores the following fall semester. This will give you a quantitative look at the impact of CBR on your students. Over time we hope to establish local and national norms that would allow for analyses of CBR outcomes by class standing, institution type, region, delivery type or other demographic variables.
We will collect data using this instrument through summer 2012. At that time we’ll make refinements to the instrument, if needed. During this time we will also keep an eye on how this instrument is being used.
Whom can I contact for more information?
We’d be happy to answer any more questions you may have. Please contact Trisha Thorme at
How was the instrument developed?
The project began with individual interviews and focus groups with 70 undergraduates and faculty at six colleges and universities nationwide discussing perceived benefits of CBR. Based on analyses of these interviews, five CBR outcome constructs were derived. The survey was piloted online in Spring 2009 to students who had experienced CBR from 15 colleges and universities (n=166). Factor analyses revealed strong statistical reliability across survey constructs.
For more information about the development of this tool, see The Journal of Higher Education Outreach and Engagement (Volume 15, Number 2, page 7, 2011):