Securing quality research requires valid and appropriate instruments and measures that can secure the best data and provide opportunities for thorough, systematic analyses. Many of the instruments that have been developed for study of service-learning and community engagement are home grown instruments that are often applied to single studies and are not cultivated further for potential use in other studies. In addition, there are many instruments that are available for studies of service-learning and community engagement, but it is sometimes unclear regarding the suitability of such studies for programs or populations for which they were not initially designed.
The research agenda seeks to identify issues for improving the instrumentation and measurement of service-learning and community engagement across the many contexts in which the work takes place.
- Use a social return on investment (SROI) approach to investigate the benefits of service-learning and community engagement.
- Instruments need to include information about contextual factors.
- Develop instruments that measure the time needed to commit to service-learning activities.
- Develop instruments in collaboration with service-learning alumni and partners. The participation of all actors is very important in the design and consolidation of the instruments.
- Establish instruments that can measure the long term impacts of service-learning are needed.
- Conduct more collaborative research involving all the relevant stakeholders.
- Create spaces to exchange tools and methods among researchers.
- Establish a glossary that standardizes terminology so that there can be consistency in measurement
- Establish a repository or online platform of instruments, perhaps through EOSLHE.