We have defined two guiding goals, seven student learning outcomes, and four programmatic outcomes under the Research that Reaches Out Mercer QEP initiative. They can be grouped into three levels: Expose, Explore, and Express, as described below and seen in Figure 1. A yearly Grand Challenge topic provides curricular and co-curricular activities to support student learning and overall goals.
Figure 1. Research that Reaches Out Pyramid
Student Learning Outcomes
Expose- At the foundational level, students will:
1. Critically analyze multiple perspectives or theories about a relevant issue/problem faced by a local, national, or global community.
2. Propose solutions to a local, national, or global issue/problem using academic knowledge and scholarship.
3. Articulate ethical reasoning in considering a local, national, or global issue/problem.
Exact examples of Expose-level assignments can be seen on the Signature Assignments page.
Explore - At the intermediate level, students will:
4. Participate in implementing contextually relevant responses to a local, national, or global issue/problem using academic knowledge and scholarship.
5. Apply ethical reasoning in implementing service to address or alleviate a local, national, or global issue/problem.
(Students at the Explore level are also relying upon student learning outcomes gained at the foundational Expose level.)
See examples below about pilot Explore-level student learning activities.
Express - At the advanced level, students will:
6. Analyze community needs or identify community benefits and determine research methods to develop an appropriate response.
7. Implement research methods and service activities to address the community need or issue (local, national, or global) using existing scholarship and/or original inquiry and research.
(Students at the Express level are also relying upon student learning outcomes gained at the foundational Expose and intermediate Explore levels.)
Explore and Express Examples
The following 4 case studies are student projects carried out in academic year 2015-2016.
- Students enrolled in SPN 326: Spanish for Medical Purposes with Dr. Jose Pino (CLA) were tasked with identifying and mapping health needs and perspectives in the Macon Hispanic community. They collected data and performed medical-related service activities at the Macon Volunteer Clinic, First Choice Primary Care, Regency Hospital of Central Georgia, St. Peter Claver Catholic Church, and the Men’s Health Fair (Explore). A subset of research students then analyzed the data in order to identify health needs and develop responses to those needs (Express).
- Traffick Jam is a team of financially-sustaining marketing students enrolled in MKT 475: Marketing Management with Dr. Tammy Crutchfield (SSBE). Traffick Jam’s purpose is to teach Macon’s teens about prevention of sex trafficking. They implement a curriculum of their own creation that seeks to educate and empower teens to protect themselves, their friends, and their communities from sex trafficking (Explore). Students enrolled in the year-long course invest in the Traffick Jam brand and spend the year applying research methods and procedures to improve strategic planning for the brand. In addition, students interview teens, teachers, administrators, and parents to uncover their perceptions toward sex trafficking and enhance the curriculum based on their research. Post-surveys have shown profound attitudinal and decision-making changes in the students with whom Traffick Jam works (Express).
- Students from political science, communication, and journalism enrolled in POL 336: Presidential Primaries, Media, and Communications with Dr. Chris Grant (CLA). Students travelled to Iowa or New Hampshire to participate in the caucus and primary, respectively, for the 2016 Presidential election. Students committed to 40+ hours of campaign work in a variety of venues in order to engage in the electoral process. They contributed to stories and were interviewed by many local and national media stations as the college student voice of the election, helping to combat perceived apathy of millennials (Explore). Students presented findings at BEAR Day 2016 to critique aspects of the elections process and offering proposals for improvement. They will continue to disseminate this work at the Georgia Political Science Association meeting and through media partnerships with GPB, The Telegraph, and WGXA (Express).
- Industrial engineering Senior Design students working with Dr. Scott Schultz (EGR) are addressing the issue of residential blight by studying the process used by Habitat for Humanity for deconstructing blighted homes. Through their research, they analyze the financial viability of house deconstruction compared to traditional demolition. Students work side-by-side with the deconstruction crew to observe and document the process and find improvements (Explore). One bottleneck they discovered was the time- consuming task of removing nails from salvaged materials. The students designed and built a de-nailing station to reduce time on this task and to make the process more efficient. Students have documented findings to share with Habitat for Humanity and the Macon-Bibb government officials working on blight. (Express).
As an institution, Mercer will:
1. Provide opportunities for activities that integrate research and service such that each student cohort reaches 95% at Expose levels, 50% at Explore, and 25% at Express.
2. Increase student participation in dissemination activities such as conference presentations, posters, publications, and community forums that integrate research and service.
3. Provide faculty development and support for activities that integrate research and service.
4. Develop infrastructure to prepare students who seek to continue work that integrates research and service to succeed in meeting their career goals and/or advanced academic study.
The student learning outcomes and programmatic outcomes contribute to two overarching goals for Research that Reaches Out:
Goal 1 - Enhance student learning through service-focused research.
Goal 2 - Foster a culture of civic engagement through scholarship and service.