The Potential of Sharing: University-Community Partnerships Proving Successful

This article was first published by The Western Star, Corner Brook, Newfoundland and Labrador on June 14, 2013. Corner Brook was hosting the Community University Expo 2013. RIR is pleased that The Western Star chose to feature Krista Jensen (RIR-York) speaking about the RIR collaboration that involves Memorial University of Newfoundland and Labrador (RIR-MUN).

For the original post please see: http://www.thewesternstar.com/News/Local/2013-06-14/article-3276858/The-potential-of-sharing/1

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By Adam Harnum

Special to The Starphoto_2364638_resize_article

CORNER BROOK — The sound of voices echoed the halls of Grenfell Campus’ new Arts and Science extension Thursday afternoon, as people from the community and universities across the country gathered to share their community-university partnerships and engagement initiatives with anyone interested in listening. Krista Jensen, a knowledge mobilization officer at York University in Toronto was present at the Engagement Fair, an event scheduled as part of the CU Expo 2013, and was willing to shed light into their partnership with Memorial called Research Impact.

“Research Impact is a network of 10 universities across Canada that each have their own knowledge mobilization unit,” she explained.

Jensen added that the Harris Centre at MUN has been their partner for a number of years.

“So each unit works to connect research and researchers with external groups such as committee members, government, private industry, basically anything that is policy ot practice relevant,” said Jensen.

She said it works both ways, in the sense that either a faculty member can come looking for new partners they might be interested in pairing with, or the community member who is looking for research expertise can come to them for help with
a project.

“We don’t actually do the research ourselves, but we can match them up,” said Jensen of those seeking research assistance.

Carol Galliott, a spectator who visited the Research Impact Network booth, felt the information provided to her was clear and interesting.

“She told me that 10 universities across the country were working together to look at research,” added Galliott. She further elaborated that the group of universities started off in Victoria, B.C. but has since expanded to 10 and Memorial is one of the universities which share and work together to make research more usable and more accessible throughout the network.

“Sometimes we don’t know what services are out there so pulling people together and sharing what each has to offer,” said Galliott of the Engagement Fair.

Jensen shares much the same feelings as her spectator in relation to the potential of such an event.

“It is really great to hear what other people are saying and maybe they are developing tools that we can use for our local community.” said Jensen. “The capacity to just learn from one another is valuable.”

Jensen does credit Memorial for being involved in engagement fairs for such a long time, and admits that when York University first got involved with the events, Memorial was one of the first places her manager contacted regarding information.

“They were just so helpful in sending us information about how they have been doing and we have taken some of that and adapted it for our own local purposes.”

Quantitative Evaluation (and a little shameless self-promotion) / Évaluation quantitative (et un peu d’autopromotion éhontée)

By David Phipps, RIR-York

Amanda Cooper (@ACooperKMb) recently released her evaluation of 44 Canadian Research Brokering Organizations. She presents a quantitative method for evaluating the effort of a system of knowledge mobilization.

Amanda Cooper (@ACooperKMb) a récemment dévoilé son évaluation de 44 organisations canadiennes de courtage de recherche. Elle présente une méthode d’évaluation quantitative visant à mesurer les efforts d’un système de mobilisation des connaissances.

Knowledge mobilization struggles with evaluation.  Evaluating an individual instance of knowledge mobilization is feasible with the right base line and pre/post intervention metrics. But rolling that up and evaluating a system of knowledge mobilization (like any one of the knowledge mobilization units in the ResearchImpact-RéseauImpactRecherche network) has so far proven challenging.

So thank you, Amanda Cooper (Assistant Professor in the Faculty of Education at Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario). Amanda recently posted a report titled “Knowledge mobilization in education: A cross-case analysis of 44 research brokering organizations across Canada”. Amanda developed a quantitative methodology to evaluate the efforts of Canadian research brokering organizations (RBOs). The methodology is based on the evidence about research utilization. We know that people centred methods encourage greater research use than do those based solely on making package knowledge accessible to decision makers. In the words of Sandra Nutley and her colleagues in Using Evidence, “[p]ersonal contact is crucial … studies suggest that it is face-to-face interactions that are most likely to encourage policy and practice uses of research” (page 74).  In Amanda’s methodology points are assigned depending on how the RBO employs products (12 points), events (20 points) and networks (20 points) as well as overall features (20 points). You can see that more points are assigned to people centred methods (events and networks) than are assigned to purely product based methods. How points are assigned is detailed in Appendix B of her report.

Amanda used RBO’s web sites as the data source and scored each of the 44 RBOs on a scale out of 100. Amanda cites ResearchImpact as one of the RBOs but the data she used pulled from York’s Knowledge Mobilization Unit. The Harris Centre, another RIR member, is also included separately as one of the 44 RBOs.

Key Point #1: This is a quantitative methodology that is reliable and reproducible citing satisfaction with the inter-rater reliability testing of the tool and the average intra-class correlation coefficient.

Key Point #2: This method evaluates a system of knowledge mobilization not the efficacy of an individual knowledge mobilization intervention.

Key Point #3: This method measures the efforts of Canadian RBOs. It does not measure impact of the RBOs efforts. That more effective RBO efforts will result in greater impact of those efforts is a testable hypothesis, but it makes sense that this would be the case.

Key Point #4 (shameless self-promotion alert): RIR-York achieved the highest score in this study.

Each with a score of 81%, RIR-York tied with the Fraser Institute and Canadian Education Association as the top performing RBOs. Fraser Institute achieved this score with a budget of $12.8M. CEA achieved this score with a budget of $2M. York’s budget for knowledge mobilization is approximately $250,000. RIR-York accomplished the same effort on a fraction of the budget. The data from the top nine ranked RBOs is presented below.

Rank

 

Organization

 

 

 

Type*

 

 

 

Size (FTE)

Operating

Expenditures

Score on KMb Matrix (%)

1

1.2.1 RI

NfP, university research centre

 

 

Small (3)

$250 000

81

1.2.4 Fraser

NfP, think tank

 

Large (60)

$12,808,690

81

1.4.2 CEA

Memb, network

 

Small (9)

$2,044,892

81

2

1.2.4 AIMS

NfP, think tank

 

Small (5)

$872 234

78

3

1.2.0 CCL

NfP, general

 

Large (77)

$20,583,490

76

1.2.3 The Centre

NfP, issue-based

 

Large (25)

$5,685,000

76

4

1.2.0 TLP

NfP, general

 

Large (74)

$5,293,039

75

1.2.1 HC

NfP university research centre

 

 

Med (11)

75

5

1.2.0 CCBR

NfP, general

 

Med (12)

74

6

1.1.2 E-BEST

Gov, district level

 

Small (6.5)

72

7

1.2.1 CEECD

NfP, university research centre

 

 

Small (9)

69

1.2.2 P4E

NfP, advocacy

 

Small (9)

$537,806

69

1.2.3 LEARN

NfP, issue-based

 

Large (33)

$3,000,000

69

8

1.2.1 HELP

NfP, university research centre

 

 

Large (50)

$7,200,200

67

9

1.1.3 CSC

Gov, standards

 

Large (20)

$3,849,254

65

We need more research like this into the processes of knowledge mobilization, engaged scholarship and community based research. Much of what we know comes from individual studies of individual instances of knowledge mobilization. As these activities become more embedded in institutions and systems we will increasingly need research on these systems and how they create infrastructure to support the individual instances. You can read more on other methods for evaluating the impact of research like Payback and Productive Interactions in a 2011 Special Edition (Volume 20, Number 3) of the journal, Research Evaluation.

Thank you to Amanda for your important contributions to this emerging field.

Postcards from Congress – Day 7: Thanks to WLU and UW

So, it’s our last day (and a short one at that)! But even though it’s only a two hour window here at the Book Fair, there is opportunity for conversation. Take earlier this morning, for example- a visitor from the University of Waterloo who had “Mr. Congress” on his nametag! Last evening we had a chance to speak briefly with the President of Wilfrid Laurier University, Dr. Max Blouw. Congress truly is a meeting place. And as we get ready to pack up after a successful week (more later about reflections and numbers), we want to express our thanks to the host institutions and the Federation.

Having two universities hosting Congress is an excellent example of collaboration and this was not lost on the staff of RIR. Both institutions worked tirelessly to support delegates, even through the summer heat and a fall-like monsoon. A special shout out to student volunteers who went above and beyond to provide support. That kind of service does not go unnoticed!

For RIR, it was a week full of conversation, deliberation and innovation. York U and Memorial U’s knowledge brokers worked the exhibit booth and had opportunities to share important messages about our work, learn about our own respective services and build relationships within the RIR team that will strengthen our own efforts moving forward. So as we break out our packing tape, thanks to Wilfrid Laurier University and University of Waterloo for creating the meeting place for the RIR network!

Post Cards from Congress Day 6 – Congress is a Marathon

On day six of Congress, the second last day, we have rain. Union Station in Toronto is flooded. Waterloo airport is cancelling flights. And the book fair is quiet with scholars staying dry and collaborating in their own scholarly associations on University of Waterloo campus and avoiding the cold wet trek to Wilfrid Laurier University campus.

But the RIR booth is full with Michael Johnny, Krista Jensen and David Phipps from York and Bojan Furst from Memorial answering questions from book fair attendees. We are pleased to have welcomed questions from across Canada and even from American and British delegates. With the introduction of knowledge mobilization strategies in SSHRC Insight Grant applications, the KMb Units in the RIR network and the services we provide to grant applicants is the envy of many universities.

Looking back on a week of mobilizing knowledge about knowledge mobilisation at Congress 2012 we realize that this is definitely an emerging focus in Canadian schoalrship. We have had 174 substantive conversations about RIR and knowledge mobilization. We have spoken to faculty at 26 universities who wish their institution had a knowledge mobilization unit. There is appetite for and appreciation of knowledge mobilization as an integral part of engaged research and learning.

But at the end of day 6 we are pleased it’s quiet in the book fair. Time for one last President’s Reception. So long as the rain lets up.

And next year we go back to our knowledge mobilization roots. We look forward to joining our first knowledge mobilization collaborators at the University of Victoria which is hosting Congress 2013.

Front row l to r: Krista Jensen and David Phipps (York); Back row l to r: Bojan Furst (MUN) and Michael Johnny (York)

Post Cards from Congress – Day 4

Traffic at the ResearchImpact/RéseauImpactRechereche (RIR) booth has been steady and we have engaged with researchers from universities across Canada who have expressed interest in knowledge mobilization (KMb) and the RIR network.  And while our pens (thanks, York Research), luggage tags (thanks, Memorial University’s yaffle project) and our candy have been popular swag, it has been our recipe book which has been our best seller!

Allow us to explain.  No, we’re not publishers, so we’re really not ‘selling’ anything.  And ‘recipe book’ is how we’re referring to a peer reviewed article which David Phipps has published in 2011, titled A Report Detailing the Development of a University-Based Knowledge Mobilization Unit that Enhances Research Outreach and Engagement (accurate, but you see how ‘recipe book’ rolls off the tongue a little easier!).  At our booth we have an assortment of materials for delegates to take to inform them of our network, our programs and services, and how their institution can get involved in RIR.

Of all these items, it is the ‘recipe book’ that has been the most popular.  So popular, in fact, that we have had to print off additional copies and we’re only half way through Congress!  We’re excited and proud that academics, as well as community-based researchers, are so interested in the details of how York has developed and delivered institutional KMb.  This represents a significant step in our engagement with researchers at Congress.  And we are hopeful this interest will result in future growth for RIR!

Post Cards from Congress – Day 2

Day 2 was a day of connecting and re-connecting.

We first welcomed Bojan Fürst to the ResearchImpact-RéseauImpactRecherche booth at Congress.  In 2011, Bojan joined the Harris Centre at Memorial University of Newfoundland and Labrador as manager of Knowledge Mobilization. You can read more about Bojan in the Harris Centre’s newsletter The Regional.  In Bojan’s words, “As a manager of knowledge mobilization my job is to connect the needs of Newfoundland and Labrador communities and regions with the expertise that resides at Memorial. I am essentially a matchmaker and my tool of trade is our opportunity, research and expertise online database yaffle.ca. Yaffle is a true repository of ingenuity in this province. It is an essential component of a network of economic development practitioners, policy makers, experts, students and community champions. Yaffle would not be what it is without its users, so I do encourage all of you to register an account, and make it stronger with your own expertise and innovative ideas added to our collective knowledge.” Yaffle has been featured in a number of stories in Mobilize This! and we are pleased and proud to have a Yaffle banner and a Yaffle expert in the RIR booth.

Welcome Bojan, who fits right in not just as a knowledge broker but as someone who is always laughing and enjoying life.

Reconnecting with colleagues is always a joy of Congress. SSHRC, Canadian Federation of Humanities and Social Sciences, Centre for Community Based Research… all great colleagues who are great to reconnect to and are great knowledge mobilization colleagues you need to know to help connect your research with non-academic partners.

Don’t forget to save the dates of June 12-15, 2013, in Corner Brook Newfoundland for the next Community-University Expo.

Meet Karen Follett, KMb Coordinator at The Harris Centre

The following blog story was first published in The Harris Centre’s newsletter The Regional, Fall 2011. It is reposted here with permission.

When I started with the Harris Centre three years ago, I remember being very confused at my first meeting by the onslaught of acronyms and strange terms. KMb, brokering, knowledge transfer, stakeholder, lay summary, Yaffle. Even my title seemed daunting: Knowledge Mobilization Coordinator.

So, how exactly was I supposed to coordinate the movement of knowledge? When you boil it down, my job is to connect the university with the rest of the province.

Thankfully, I soon got the hang of it, becoming fluent in “community engagement” speak and getting to work on bringing Memorial expertise into Newfoundland and Labrador communities.

The thing I love most about my job is it’s never boring. Some days I help a non-profit group enter their research needs into Yaffle, our online research database, and then help find a match for them at the university. Then there are the days I get to travel with researchers to a remote community in a twin otter airplane.

One of the most exciting ways I connect people is by bringing people together face-to-face through workshops and other events. I could open up my own travel agency with the knowledge I’ve gained in planning logistics with the Harris Centre. We bring Memorial faculty, staff and students into different regions and communities of the province to interact with community leaders and decision makers.

It’s amazing what you learn and experience by leaving the university environment and going into a community to talk with residents about their real-world issues.

The thing that keeps me on my toes is problem solving and learning from others on-the-job. For example, I could never have been taught in school the lessons I learned when I had to get a group back to St. John’s (including myself), and were met with weather delays in Nain, Labrador during one of our workshops.

I’m also thankful for the lesson I learned about sharing knowledge: it sometimes comes from unexpected places. I now know that those inside the university community gain as much knowledge and experience from community-university engagement as do those from outside the university.

Please feel free to contact me with your questions or projects at kfollett@mun.ca – I’m here to help!

Karen

The Harris Centre launches The Regional / Le Harris Centre lance The Regional

ResearchImpact – Réseau Impact Recherche member The Harris Centre at Memorial University has launched a new quarterly newsletter called The Regional. Here is an excerpt from the first edition.

Le Harris Centre, membre du Réseau Impact Recheche – ResearchImpact vient de lancer une nouvelle infolettre trimestrielle appelée “The Regional”. Voici un extrait de la première édition.

Welcome to the first edition of The Regional! We’re excited to share some of the stories happening in our province.

When my family and I decided to move to Newfoundland and Labrador some three years ago, there were many raised eyebrows. Friendly advice ranged from warnings that the weather is unpleasant, to the ominous statements that “that place is going to hell in a hand basket, and that everybody with their head screwed on right is leaving for the greener pastures.”

Not that it matter much what they said.

We landed in St. John’s in 2008 and found a vibrant, welcoming community and blueberry covered hills. Our two-year-old couldn’t believe her luck.

Six months ago I landed the best job at Memorial University – manager of knowledge mobilization with the Harris Centre. It sounds like a mouthful, but don’t forget that this is academia you are dealing with – we never miss a chance to make simple things sound complicated. The job, and I’ll tell you a bit more about it, came with a major perk – I get to see Newfoundland and Labrador through a whole new lens of people who work across the province to make their communities and regions successful.

Read the rest of the newsletter here.