Over the years, there has been much debate over the kinds of methods that are appropriate for the study of service-learning and community engagement.
A broad range of research designs, methods, and approaches are needed in order to gain a full understanding of the nature of the field. A broad range of epistemologies is required in designing and operationalizing today’s research on service-learning and community engagement.
- Conduct more comparative studies involving different institutions and different countries.
- It is important to examine the types of analyses we are using to analyse focus groups. For example, there should be more and deeper discourse analysis and content analysis.
- Apply a more phenomenological approach to studies.
- Mixed methods (quantitative and qualitative) are very useful to generate consistent knowledge that dialogues with different audiences in academia and with the community/society; these methods should be applied more to the study of service-learning and community engagement.
- Studies should include more participatory action research.
- Have more experimental studies with random assignment.
- Use more qualitative methods that triangulate qualitative data with quantitative data.
- What are steps to plan a research study when the definition of service-learning is not clear in a particular context?
- How can we apply Asset Based Community Development to strengthen community’s contribution?
- How can we provide evidence on the attributes of service-learning through longitudinal and retrospective studies?
- What are the impacts/elements that need to be included to measure the community voice?
- How do we improve the value of community knowledge to our service-learning research and practice?
- How to methodologically capture and preserve oral history that is so important in some communities? (an example of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa)
- Studies should take into account (control for) the professional bias of the researcher regarding the particular methods/tools being used.
- More definition and clarity is needed regarding the variables, interventions, and outcomes.