Participatory Evaluation Research on Connected Learning Programs in Emergencies
Purdue - CLCC MemberAuthor: Dhinesh Radhakrishnan
The CLCC Research Committee, chaired by University of Geneva and co-chaired by Purdue University, obtained a grant from Open Society Foundation to design, conduct, and summarize a participatory research on the connected learning programs offered in emergencies. This aim, as a fundamental goal for the consortium as a whole, demanded the majority of the research committee’s time and resources in 2019.
To achieve this aim, the research committee designated co-PIs from two CLCC member institutions (Dr. Barbara Moser-Mercer,
University of Geneva and Dr. Jennifer DeBoer, Purdue University). Dr. Moser-Mercer from University of Geneva served as a bridge from the study to the core CLCC grant and Dr. DeBoer from Purdue served to oversee the research coordinator (Dhinesh Radhakrishnan), human subjects’ approval through Purdue’s Institutional Review Board, application of sites for participation, and study execution. The research team aimed to generate quantitative and qualitative understanding of the reported impact of different connected learning models on learners and their communities, including on different facets of the connected learning experience. The theory of change, briefly, is that refugee researchers, when equipped with rigorous research training, are best poised to explain and disseminate the research they have conducted to have an impact that is both equitable and sustainable.
A call for letters of interest and description of sites’ suitability for participation was circulated to the CLCC members. Three CLCC member sites (InZone, Kakuma; BHER, Dadaab; Arizona State University, Adjumani) applied and were approved, and they subsequently confirmed human subjects’ appropriateness with their local designee. Participant researchers (PRs) were recruited at each site, and a face-to-face and online participatory research training were designed and implemented. Dhinesh coordinated the online training in September 2019, and in the same month visited each of the three sites for a four-day face-to-face training. Following the training the researchers from the three sites designed and conducted the study.
The PRs reviewed existing connected learning instruments and identified dimensions pertinent to the study and to their local contexts. PRs then spent the latter part of 2019 conducting data collection. They met as a team and completed analyses.
In December 2019, alongside the Geneva Summer School in Nairobi, the PRs shared results from each of the three sites. The activities of the research committee resulted in numerous concrete deliverables. These include participant-led research summaries (in the form of presentations) at the GSS held in Nairobi in December 2019. The student presentations at the Nairobi meeting were a unique opportunity not only to share first results from the participatory research study but to directly speak to key stakeholders in Higher Education in Emergencies. The participants of the GSS represented multiple sectors across HEiE, including leaders of local NGOs, higher education institutions, and ministries, and they were engaged by the research presentations. Final reports and dissemination of the completed analysis are expected by 2021.
Finally, and more specifically, the steps involved to complete the study were as follows:
• Starting the specific participatory study by critically examining the need for engaging learners, mode of engagement, and the diversity in engagement
• Developing the ensemble participatory research team (understanding the creation of team and monitoring their environment)
• Developing a participatory research plan with the researchers (articulating how the program will operate)
• Training learners to develop instruments and function as investigators (training as interviewers and survey administrators)
• Approaching analysis and report writing (creating approaches to analysis and strategies for presenting data)
• Disseminating findings and leading transformation
To read other stories from the 2019 CLCC Yearbook, click here.