Students found working with communities an invaluable part of their academic development. They were proud to discover that their projects did matter to the stakeholders. At the beginning of the semester, their projects came across as an elusive quest, but throughout the semester, the students’ confidence in their communication and research skills steadily grew.
The results from the Engagement Tool showed mixed results. The propensity scores indicated that students reproduced the traditional image of the researcher by emphasizing the importance of facts and analysis, objectivity, avoidance of politics, and meeting academic standards.
The scores for reflective capacity indicated that students reflected mostly on working with communities and less on the role of values, beliefs, and power in community research.
No significant differences were found in propensity and reflective capacity between the beginning and the end of the semester at the group level, but differences existed between students.
Overall, students considered public engagement in research an excellent learning experience for their future careers. Yet, it proved to be a challenge to shift their mindset from a traditional to a more engaged mode of conducting research.
The final report “The Engagement Tool. Testing Student Readiness for Engaged Scholarship in Planning and Design” (2019) is available upon request.