Sept. 2, 2021
Dr. Sarah Keeling
NACA Director of Education & Research
Practitioners often feel that they do not have extra time to carry out research projects. Conducting research provides data for evidenced-based decisions, facilitates the advancement of the profession, and helps practitioners advocate for more money and resources. The recently updated
NACA® Research Agenda is a tool for campus activities practitioners to use to guide their work. It offers sample topics that provide a starting point for a project or helps develop a research question to be answered. Some of the data you already gather via assessment practices or other means could be used for research. Campus activities professionals can use the NACA® Research Agenda to explore these questions:
- How can campus activities professionals demonstrate the influence and impact between their work and the campus environment?
- How can campus activities professionals demonstrate the specific influence of involvement in campus activities programs on student learning and development in college?
- How can campus activities professionals embrace their roles as educators and facilitate the advancement of the profession?
How do you begin a research project? First, start with a research question – what do you want to know? Next, what methodology will help you find the answer to your question? Check in with your Institutional Review Board (IRB) before starting a project and remember that you may have ready sets of data for your campus in the Institutional Effectiveness (or similar) office. Gather and analyze your data. You typically don't need any fancy data analyzing tools for simple projects; Excel will usually suffice. Share your results with key campus stakeholders and with colleagues in the field. Present at a NACA conference, publish in the
Journal of Campus Activities Practice & Scholarship or
Campus Programming Magazine, or reach out the NACA Education & Research staff to discuss ideas for sharing your findings.
Sarah Keeling, Ph.D. serves as director of Education & Research for the National Association for Campus Activities and has over 20 years of higher education experience. Her doctorate in higher education administration is from the University of South Carolina.
Related Professional Competency: Assessment & Data Management
Need funding for your research?
Consider applying for a
NACA® Foundation Research Grant.
Applications are due by Oct. 15.