I’ve written in the past about some of Towson University’s great community engagement and outreach projects, as well as about the University’s application for the Carnegie Classification for Community Engagement. In that blog post about the Carnegie Classification, I wrote about an Assessment Subgroup that has been brought together to evaluate the current tools being used across campus.
As you might imagine, that has been a huge undertaking. This group reviewed what was being done in different departments across campus and at other universities to determine some best practices for developing a more comprehensive community engagement and outreach assessment tool. The group also looked at some experts in the field and the research that they’ve done to make sure that we align with current practices across the country.
Another great resource that can assist in developing and implementing the new assessment tool is the Engagement Scholarship Conference, which I just attended last week. This conference brings together faculty and staff from across the world who are interested and involved in community engagement and outreach activities on their campuses. At ESC, I was able to learn from other practitioners tackling the same issues as I do, assessment being one of them, and build a network of people at other universities that I can swap ideas with.
One session that I attended was all about community engagement and outreach assessment at Texas Tech University. TTU uses an adapted version of the Outreach and Engagement Measurement Instrument (OEMI) from Michigan State University. I learned that even if you are using a system that has already been developed, there will still be tweaks and improvements that need to be made in order to make it effective for your campus. So while we have been comparing and including best practices in the tool for TU, there will certainly be adaptations that we will need to make in the implementation phase.
Something as large as assessment of community engagement and outreach for the whole university is certainly an on-going process. Our group will continue to learn and adapt to make the most effective tool for Towson University. You can also expect more blog posts about our progress as we move toward implementation, so stay tuned!